According to various sources, more and more women are waiting until their late thirties – and in many cases their forties – to get pregnant. From dedicating time to a career to working toward financial stability, there are several reasons why waiting to start your family might make sense.
However, when choosing to get pregnant at an advanced maternal age (defined as 35 or older), it is important to be aware of the increased risk factors involved. Women who wait to give birth welcome perfectly healthy babies into the world every day, but many also face complications that lead to injuries and illnesses for both mother and child. With the increased biological risk factors, older mothers also face a greater chance of falling victim to medical malpractice.
Risk Factors for Pregnant Women Age 35 or Older
In general, women of advanced maternal age face the same risks as younger mothers, but the risks become intensified and more likely. As a result, if you are considering giving birth after your 35th birthday, you should be particularly vigilant about following the basic rules for a safe and healthy pregnancy. These include things like:
- Starting prenatal care early and visiting your OB/GYN regularly during your pregnancy
- Taking multivitamins with iron and folic acid (as prescribed by your doctor)
- Managing your weight
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by staying active, eating healthy, and avoiding drugs and alcohol
It is important to note that the likelihood of complications continues to climb as you get older. Age 35 is not a cut-off point, but rather the starting end of a sliding scale. In addition, fertility rates drop by more than a third from age 29-35 to age 40-44.
Complications that Become More Likely at Advanced Maternal Age
We have previously discussed some of the more-significant risks of giving birth at an advanced maternal age, including chromosomal abnormalities (which can result in Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis), hypertensive complications, stillbirth, and maternal death. Additional increased risks include:
- Gestational diabetes, which can cause high birth weight
- Likelihood of giving birth by cesarean section (c-section)
- Low birth weight and premature delivery
- Placental problems, such as placenta previa
Each of these complications is another chance for your OB/GYN or delivering physician to make a mistake. This is an unfortunate way to look at your pregnancy, but the reality is that this is a serious concern that warrants consideration. Statistics show that birth injuries occur in seven out of every 1,000 deliveries in the United States. This amounts to 28,000 incidents annually, or about three every hour.
Some of the most common medical errors are associated with the increased risks involved in giving birth at an advanced maternal age. For example, larger babies are more likely to suffer shoulder dystocia, which can lead to various forms of palsy and other life-changing complications. Mothers who give birth to larger babies are also more likely to require c-sections, which carry their own sets of risks as well. In general, the more complicated your pregnancy, the greater likelihood of you or your baby suffering an injury due to a medical mistake.
Considerations for Getting Pregnant After 35
If you are 35 or older and pregnant or thinking about starting a family, you should consult with your doctor about the risks involved. Certain mothers – such as those who are overweight or have a history of labor complications – are more likely to face issues during pregnancy. If you are also past age 35, these risks can multiply. Your doctor should be able to thoroughly assess your condition and help you weigh the risks of giving birth. When managed appropriately, the risks of advanced-age pregnancies can be outweighed by the joy of giving birth to your new child.
Contact BirthInjuryJustice.org for More Information
The malpractice lawyers at BirthInjuryJustice.org provide legal representation to mothers who have experienced complications during pregnancy or childbirth caused by medical negligence. If you have concerns about your prenatal care or believe that your doctor may have made an error that caused you or your baby harm, call (855) 712-7818 or contact us online to discuss your situation today.