Advanced Maternal Age: Pregnancy Over 35
In the USA, the average age at which women give birth for the first time increased from 21.4 years old in 1970 to 26.9 in 2018, according to the CDC. With more women waiting to grow their family until later in life, the term “advanced maternal age” is becoming a much more common topic. But what does it mean, and how important is it?
What does Advanced Maternal Age mean?
Advanced Maternal Age (AMA), formerly called a geriatric pregnancy, is simply another way of saying you’re pregnant and will deliver at age 35 or older. There are some risks associated with childbearing later in life, such as decreased fertility and increased risk of birth defects. And while it’s important to monitor the health of older mothers and their babies throughout their pregnancies, many women have smooth and successful pregnancies and deliveries, even at advanced ages.
What are the chances of getting pregnant as a woman ages?
The chances of getting pregnant each cycle does decrease with age, with the most marked decline happening after age 40. Healthy couples in their 20s and early 30s can expect that around 25% or 1 in 4 women will get pregnant in any single menstrual cycle. By age 40, around 10% or 1 in 10 women will get pregnant per menstrual cycle.
What are the risks of Advanced Maternal Age?
The age of 35 is not a magic number. It's simply the age when some risks become more notable. Some of these risks can include the following:
- Taking longer to get pregnant
- Risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher
- More likely to have multiples
- More likely to develop high blood pressure
- More likely to develop gestational diabetes
- Risk of pregnancy loss is higher
Should I get genetic testing if I am Advanced Maternal Age?
Both screening and diagnostic testing are offered to all pregnant women. You don’t have to be a certain age or have a worrisome family history in order to have these tests. Talk with your doctor about genetic testing options so you can make a choice that’s right for you. It’s your choice.
How does prenatal care help?
Regular prenatal care can help your ob-gyn detect problems sooner and provide the treatment needed to manage them. At each visit, your health and your fetus’s health will be monitored. Women who have a pre-existing medical condition or who develop a medical condition during pregnancy may need to be seen more frequently.
No matter your age, regular prenatal care can increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Always ask your doctor about any concerns you have.