Health Topics

Healthy Living

September 2011
The Right Age to Have Babies
Dr. Geeta Chadha
Why is it important to have babies before 35 years?
As a woman nears her thirties, she should be cautioned about having babies; the reason being that from 30 years onwards, women experience a decline in fertility. Consequently, at 35, the complications related to pregnancy intensify, making a woman and her baby susceptible to many kinds of risks including birth defects and miscarriage. Hence, the importance of having kids before the age of 35 years. 

What are the causes for decline in fertility?
Age and fertility go hand-in-hand with the latter decreasing with increasing age. A number of reasons that can cause this decline are:
  • Reduced number of good quality eggs in the ageing ovary
  • Medical co-morbidities with increasing age
Is it safe to have babies after 35 years?
The answer is NO. Even though medical care has made it safe for women to deliver after 35 years, the infertility and pregnancy complications are much higher for this group of women than for younger women.

Do the risks of birth defects and miscarriage increase with age?
Yes! The risk of birth defects and miscarriage increase with the increasing age of the mother. This usually happens because of the abnormal division of the egg, which is called nondisjunction. This eventually leads to unequal chromosomes at the end of the division. Generally, a woman is considered to be at high risk for chromosomal abnormalities when she is 35. Around 1 in 1,400 babies born to women in their 20s suffer from the ‘Downsyndrome,’ and this increases to 1 in 350 or so in women at 35.

There is evidence to show that the risk of miscarriage (loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation) is 12% to 15% for 20-year-old pregnant mothers, which rises to nearly 25% for women at 40 years. Older women are at a greater risk of miscarriages due to the increased incidence of chromosomal abnormalities.

Other problems/risks
Some other health risks associated with late pregnancy or pregnancy after the age of 35 years are:
  • Women above the age of 30 years automatically stand to be at more risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Stillbirth is more in women above the age of 35 years
  • Older women also tend to have low-birth weight babies, weighing less than 5.5 pounds during birth
  • Cesarean is more common for women having their first child after 35 years
Take Care!
  • Foods rich in fibre,starch and folic acid are recommended to reduce risks of complications. A well-balanced diet containing lot of minerals and vitamins should essentially be a diet for pregnant mothers.
  • Cigarettes and caffeine should be avoided.

Dr.Geeta Chadha is Senior Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals,New Delhi
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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