Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How dangerous is it for an older woman to have a baby?"
I am nearly 50, and I believe that I might be pregnant. I have been a little careless with my partner because I just didn't think this was very likely to happen at this point in my life. My question is how dangerous is this? I know a lot of problems begin as moms get older. How much risk am I at, or the baby if I have one at this age?
The first step you need to take is to go out and buy a home pregnancy test at the grocery store. They are fairly inexpensive and are very sensitive at detecting pregnancy if properly used. Only after that will you have to think about the issues of pregnancy in older women. First I'll say that there are many women your age every year that get pregnant and have healthy full term infants without any compilation. However, there are some defects and complications that happen at a higher rate than in younger women. The one that is most significant is Down's syndrome. In women your age, Down's occurs at about 3-4% (30 times greater than younger women). You can have tests done to look for Down's sometime in your second trimester. Preeclampsia is another pregnancy complication that is more likely in older women. If your home pregnancy test does end up being positive then you will want to schedule an appointment with your OBGYN. He or she will be able to discuss the additional risks of a pregnancy at your age so that you are fully aware of everything that could happen. If you develop any complications, you may warrant referral to maternal fetal medicine specialist (OBGYN with training in high risk pregnancies) for management of this pregnancy.
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