Chicago Health | Homepage
The Cost of Delaying Childbirth

The Cost of Delaying Childbirth

Celebs can afford to do it, can you?

By Nancy Maes

So many stories abound about celebrities in their late 30s or 40s giving birth to healthy babies, that delaying childbirth seems like a normal, natural experience. Yet women who wait until their mid-30s or later to have a baby face certain risks.

“The first important hurdle they have to overcome is the ability to become pregnant because of issues of infertility [common] in women in their late 30s and 40s,” says Dr. Susan Gerber, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who specializes in fetal maternal medicine. “As women get older, the risk of conceiving a fetus with multiple types of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, is also considerably increased. The increase of chromosomal abnormalities also leads to an increased risk in the miscarriage rate in the first trimester because [many] miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities.”

Statistics from the March of Dimes underscore that reality. At age 25, a woman’s risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is 1 in 1,250; at age 35 it is 1 in 400; at age 45, 1 in 30. The risk of miscarriage in the first trimester is about 20 percent for women between 35 and 39 and more than 50 percent by age 45.

Women over 35 are also more likely to have problems with gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, called preeclampsia when it is more serious, which develops during pregnancy. These women also have an increased risk of stillbirth. “Those risks are not overwhelmingly high, and, generally, women can do quite well,” says Gerber. “If a woman is 40 with no underlying conditions and conceives a chromosomally normal child, there is a very high likelihood that she will do fine. I practice high-risk obstetrics, and there are days in my practice when I don’t see anyone under the age of 40. In my experience, when women have delayed pregnancy to that age, they often come expecting outcomes that are far worse than the ones they are at risk for.”

As for the celebrities who give birth at a later age, Gerber says, “They may have gone through fertility treatments that the public doesn’t know about, and, in general, they tend to be healthy, without the chronic medical conditions that may affect other people.”

Gerber recommends that women have a preconception medical checkup. “If a woman is thinking about getting pregnant, she should absolutely [get checked by] her OB/GYN to see if there is anything that needs to be pursued [diagnostically] before she gets pregnant [and certainly] optimize her healthcare such as losing 20 pounds,” says Gerber “It allows women the ideal opportunity to plan a pregnancy at a time when they are healthy to give them the best prognosis for a pregnancy that will go well.”

Email This Post Email This Post

Published in Chicago Health Winter/Spring 2013

Similar Articles

6 Things to Know Before Starting Infertility Treatments

6 Things to Know Before Starting Infertility Treatments

By Nadine Kenney Johnstone It’s a surprising statistic: One in every eight couples has trouble getting

Miss-Diagnosed: Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet it’s often hidden

Miss-Diagnosed: Heart disease is the number one killer of women, yet it’s often hidden

By Laura Drucker Who do you picture when you think of a typical heart disease patient?

Beating the Biological Clock

Beating the Biological Clock

Eggs without an expiration date offer women fertile hopes By Morgan Lord Starting at age 30, women

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap

Innovative programs provide bridge between pediatric and adult care By Nancy Maes The teen years can be

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

May 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017
May 7, 2017 May 8, 2017 May 9, 2017 May 10, 2017 May 11, 2017 May 12, 2017 May 13, 2017
May 14, 2017 May 15, 2017 May 16, 2017 May 17, 2017 May 18, 2017 May 19, 2017 May 20, 2017
May 21, 2017 May 22, 2017 May 23, 2017 May 24, 2017 May 25, 2017 May 26, 2017 May 27, 2017
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives