Geriatric pregnancy is a pregnancy in women over the age of 35. Many fear that advanced maternal age would increase the risk for prenatal problems and post-natal complications, which can result in a negative impact on both mother and fetus. However, this is not necessarily true, as a woman’s reproductive potential does not decrease with age on a per-year basis. Statistics show that women aged 35-37 are just as capable of having a successful pregnancy as their younger counterparts.
The following is a list of risks associated with having geriatric pregnancy:
1. Gestational Diabetes
Women aged 35 years and older have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. It is a blood sugar disorder that can affect both the mother and fetus, resulting in excess weight gain during pregnancy, premature birth, and the birth of a larger-than-average baby.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that results in hypertension and proteinuria. The cause of preeclampsia is still unknown, but it can lead to preterm birth, low birth weight, and even stillbirth.
3. Postpartum bleeding
Postpartum bleeding or lochia occurs after delivery because of the uterus’ contractions pulling the blood vessels near the opening of the uterus. It usually begins 6-12 hours after childbirth and can last up to 6 weeks, but an older pregnant woman is more prone to postpartum bleeding than younger ones.
4. Placenta previa
Placenta previa occurs in approximately 1 out of every 200 pregnancies in women aged 35 years or older. It occurs when the placenta covers the cervix, which can cause painless vaginal bleeding during pregnancy and in some cases cause miscarriage or preterm labor. However, in most cases of this condition, it goes away on its own by delivery time.
A stillbirth is defined as a fetus that dies after 20 weeks of pregnancy. An older pregnant woman has an increased risk of having a stillbirth.
6. Preterm Birth
An older mother is more likely to give birth prematurely compared to younger women, which can pose health risks to both the babies and mothers.
7. Chromosomal abnormalities
Women aged 35 years old have an increased chance of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.
Miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends on its own within the first 20 weeks of gestation. Older pregnant women have an increased risk for miscarriage compared to younger women because their eggs are more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities, which in turn increases the risk of miscarriage.
9. Cesarean birth
Cesarean birth is when a woman delivers her baby through a surgical incision in the abdominal wall and uterus instead of vaginal delivery. An older pregnant woman has an increased risk of having cesarean birth because it is more likely for them to have certain complications, such as excessive bleeding, placenta previa, or fetal distress.
10. Congenital abnormalities
Congenital abnormalities are when there are structural defects of the baby’s body present at birth, which can be life-threatening if not treated right away. Older pregnant women have an increased risk of having a baby with congenital abnormalities compared to younger women.