Age 20 -24 is commonly referred to as the most fertile age period in a woman’s life. This does not however mean that women are not fertile outside this age range. Pregnancies of women who are over 35 years of age (or under-aged girls) are termed high-risk pregnancies because of the possible risks they or their foetus may face. Some of the possible factors associated with older/younger aged pregnancies include:

  • Increased chances of delivery through a cesarean section.
  • Increased risk of miscarriages and stillborns.
  • Older women tend to have better diet and health habits than younger ones during pregnancy.
  • Increased incidence of antenatal check-ups and tests (this is mostly seen amongst older women).
  • Increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities like with Down’s syndrome (this is mostly seen amongst older women).

As women grow older, the chances of having a child with Down’s syndrome increases, though many women over 35-40 go on to have normal children.

At age 20, a woman has a 1 in 1500 chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome.

At age 30, a woman has a 1 in 1000 chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome.

The odds increase to 1 in 400 at age 35 and 1 in 100 at age 40. Down’s syndrome can be detected while a child is in the womb and even though no medical cure is currently available, most health issues associated with it can be treated and managed with the right healthcare provision.

Don’t let these statistics scare you; many pregnancies and deliveries go on smoothly without any birth defects or complications.  All pregnant women, regardless of age, are usually offered screening tests for genetic abnormalities like Down’s syndrome. See your medical practitioner if you have any concerns.

Being an older mum does not mean you will not enjoy your pregnancy or enjoy being a mum, many women who are over 35 have perfectly pleasant pregnancies and fulfilling motherhoods. Older mums can find support and share experiences with other older mums who have been there and had their babies. You may find the encouragement you need to get through your pregnancy and beyond see our Community forum for Older Mums.

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