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Pregnancy later in life

  1. "A wise girl has her children on time", you sometimes hear. That is, between the ages of 20 and 35. More and more women are becoming pregnant later. However, the risk of abnormalities and complications is higher with a later pregnancy.

  1. A pregnancy at a later age implies a considerable extra burden on the body. The cardiovascular system in particular has a harder time.

Typical Ailments of Age

  1. After all, the stroke volume of a pregnant woman (amount of blood that is moved per heartbeat) increases by 50 percent. A young woman can bear that burden better than an older woman. A pregnancy at a later age can therefore cause typical aging ailments, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Pregnancy is an extra burden and provokes these ailments. This also increases the risk of growth retardation of the fetus. This can result in the baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight.


  1. The chance that the child has a chromosomal abnormality is also higher with a later pregnancy. This is because the genetic material in the mother's egg cells is older, because she has had those eggs since birth. The best-known example of this chromosomal abnormality is Down syndrome, or trisomy-21. The chance of having a child with Down's syndrome in a 20-year-old is one in 1,500. In a 36-year-old woman this is already one in 300, and in a 40-year-old woman it is already one in 300. n in 100. Even so, fewer children with Down syndrome are born in older women than you might expect. This is because chromosome abnormalities can be perfectly detected with an amniocentesis or a villus test. After all, an analysis of the chromosomes is a standard procedure in pregnant women over 35. There are also chromosomal abnormalities that make the child unviable. That explains why older women are more likely to miscarry.


  1. Furthermore, the chance of fraternal twins, in which two eggs are fertilized by two sperm cells, is also greater when a woman becomes pregnant at a later age. For a 20-year-old woman, the chance is about 1 in 100, for a 35-year-old woman it is 1 in 75. It is not yet clear why.

Risk remains small

  1. Yet it is not all doom and gloom. The chance that a pregnancy will end well later in life is still much higher than the chance of complications. The risk of problems does increase, but nevertheless remains small. However, regardless of pregnancy, there is another problem for older mothers. Anyone who starts having children at the age of 40 has an adolescent at home at the age of 55. Many people underestimate that.

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