Advanced Maternal Age – What is it and why will it affect me?
Updated: Sep 8, 2022
This term, advanced maternal age, is given to anyone who’s pregnant and over the age of 35, and they suddenly get put into a whole other category of ‘risks.’ Here’s what some of the evidence tells us about those risks:
Certain genetic conditions are more common the older the pregnant person is
The rate of miscarriage before 20 weeks goes up with age
Rates of complications go up
More scheduled inductions because of age, which lead to more interventions
Stillbirth rates are slighter higher
There are a number of reasons people wait to get pregnant, and those age numbers are only increasing in America. With this, comes a risk of it being tougher to get pregnant, the older the pregnant person is. However, age doesn’t necessarily mean drastically different outcomes in deliveries of their babies. Some of the increased risks for over 35 are small, while others are quite significant, such as cesarean rates. Also, what I personally consider a risk worth taking may not be the same risk someone else is willing to take.
We also know that who you have for a medical provider matters in the outcome of your births, especially when it comes to stillbirth rates over the age of 35. Midwives are shown to decrease the rates of interventions with no increased risks to babies, in certain countries.
Being over the age of 35 doesn’t mean you should automatically be monitored more. Being over the age of 35 doesn’t mean you should automatically be induced at 39 weeks. Being over the age of 35 doesn’t mean you have to get weekly cervical exams (that’s a topic for a whole other blog). And being over the age of 35 doesn’t mean you’re automatically high risk. You still have options and choices, and you still have to consent to everything, no matter how many statistics they throw at you (Any provider that mentions statistics should also be leading you to those studies so you can see them for yourself, btw. Informed consent is key here)
***Thank you, Evidence Based Birth, for providing great discussions and resources for so many pregnancy-related topics!***
Haddow, J. E., G. E. Palomaki, J. A. Canick and G. J. Knight (2009). Prenatal screening for open neural tube defects and down’s syndrome. Fetal Medicine. C. H. Rodeck, M. J. Whittle and J. Queenan, Elsevier.
Jolly, M., N. Sebire, J. Harris, S. Robinson and L. Regan (2000). “The risks associated with pregnancy in women aged 35 years or older.” Hum Reprod 15(11): 2433-2437.
Magnus M C, Wilcox A J, Morken N, et al. (2019). Role of maternal age and pregnancy history in risk of miscarriage: prospective register based study BMJ 2019; 364:l869.