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Pregnancy After Age 35

Overview

Most pregnancies after age 35 are healthy ones. But as you age beyond your mid-30s, some risks do increase. Your doctor will check you often to catch most problems early.

The main age-related risks are:

The risk of having a baby with certain chromosome problems increases with age. The number of pregnancies affected by a chromosome problem is about:footnote 1

  • 1 out of 110 at age 30.
  • 1 out of 84 at age 35.
  • 1 out of 40 at age 40.
  • 1 out of 12 at age 45.

Because of the increased risk as you age, your doctor or midwife may recommend that you consider testing for genetic conditions and birth defects. Screening tests can show the chance that a baby has certain conditions. Diagnostic tests can show for sure if the baby has certain conditions. What you choose may depend on your wishes, how far along you are in your pregnancy, your family health history, and what tests are available in your area.

Deciding about birth defects testing

The decision to test for birth defects is personal. There's a lot to think about, like what the results would mean to you, and how they might affect your choices.

If you choose to have a test, you may want to talk with a genetic counselor. The counselor can talk with you about the reasons to have or not have the test. They can also help you find other resources for support and decision-making.

Having a healthy pregnancy

Taking great care of yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby. Get regular checkups, and eat a balanced diet. Try to get regular exercise and plenty of rest. And avoid smoking and alcohol and other things that could harm you and your baby.

References

Citations

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2020). Screening for fetal chromosomal abnormalities: ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 226. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 136(4): e48–e69. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004084. Accessed October 20, 2020.

Credits

Current as of: February 23, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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