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What is a Geriatric Pregnancy Called Today?

When you hear the term “geriatric pregnancy,” it’s hard to believe that this was once the term used to describe a pregnancy over the age of 35. By all accounts, 35 is hardly considered geriatric and has actually become a pretty common age for women to become pregnant. So why is 35 the age where […]

When you hear the term “geriatric pregnancy,” it’s hard to believe that this was once the term used to describe a pregnancy over the age of 35. By all accounts, 35 is hardly considered geriatric and has actually become a pretty common age for women to become pregnant. So why is 35 the age where pregnancy becomes “riskier” and what is a geriatric pregnancy referred to as today? Nowadays, physicians use the term advanced maternal age (AMA) instead, and even though it sounds better than its previous name, it still refers to the risks involved with having a baby later in life.

Today, we will discuss what to expect if you are pregnant at 35 or older.

Advanced Maternal Age (AMA)

According to a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people between 35 and 39 who gave birth to their first child has increased throughout the years. As of 2014, first-time births for women in this age group were 6 times more common than they were in the 1970s. In fact, the number of births that occur in women in their forties has also increased to four times what it used to be.

So why the sudden shift? Well, for starters, a lot has changed since the 1970s. Priorities for women have shifted as more opportunities became available. It is not uncommon for women to focus on their education and career in their twenties and early thirties, which can move “starting a family” down on their list of priorities. It is also not unusual for women to have a second or third child in their late thirties or early forties.

Risks and Complications

As we mentioned before, even though it can be quite common for women to give birth after 35, it does come with additional risks. Some of these complications or risks include increased rates of miscarriage, genetic disorders, and certain pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.

However, aside from additional testing and monitoring, an advanced maternal age pregnancy is treated pretty similarly to a typical pregnancy of someone younger than 35. It is important to note that despite these risks, there are millions of people every year who have healthy natural pregnancies after 35. And even if you have difficulty becoming pregnant, there are plenty of treatment options available to help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

So why is it more difficult for women over 35 to get pregnant? Fertility typically peaks for women around the age of 25 or 26 (mid-twenties). During this time, their chances of getting pregnant during a menstrual cycle (ovulation) are 25%. Although it is still possible for conception as we get older, the chances of getting pregnant for women over 40 drop to about 5% (per cycle).

Lower fertility rates result from a decline in the number of eggs a woman has. In case you didn’t know, women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, and as we get older, there are fewer eggs inside the ovaries. With that being said, most women in their late thirties and even early forties still have plenty of eggs available for fertilization; it just may require more effort than it would if you were 25. While we are discussing lower fertility rates, it’s critical to mention that age is not always the sole cause of lower fertility rates. In fact, women in the advanced maternal age range may have to deal with other obstacles, including medications or conditions that may complicate pregnancies, such as obesity, endometriosis, diabetes, fibroids, or high blood pressure.

Reducing the Risks

If you are over 35 and pregnant, there are ways to reduce your chances of risks and complications during pregnancy. Small lifestyle changes can have big results when it comes to your overall health. Incorporating healthier eating and exercise habits is an excellent place to start (obesity can cause fertility problems because higher amounts of body fat may increase estrogen levels).

Another option you may want to consider to reduce future or potential health conditions is to store your baby’s cord blood with a family stem cell bank, like AlphaCord. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the umbilical cord blood and extracting its stem cells. Once the stem cells have been extracted, they are privately stored for potential future medical use for your child (and family).

Conclusion

There is absolutely nothing “geriatric” about being 35 and knowing what a geriatric pregnancy is (even if it’s an outdated term) is a great way to squash misinformation and spread awareness.

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Closeup of a couple embracing the mother’s pregnant belly.