The risks of pregnancy later in life

More women waiting to have children
Updated: Jul. 23, 2018 at 12:09 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - We've been hearing a lot lately about how many women are waiting longer to have children.

And this is interesting - while the overall number of births in the United States actually declined last year, according to the Centers For Disease Control, the number of women in their 40s who are having babies rose. That's great, but doctors say women who choose to have children later in life also have additional health issues to consider that younger women don't.

I talked to Dr. Jessica Deane-Wyman, an OB/GYN with Novant Health in Charlotte. She says the majority of her patients are over 35.

"In one way I feel like it's been beneficial for women in general because they are able to do both - work and have families," Dr. Deane-Wyman said, "but on the other hand, there are increased risks of delaying childbearing."

Dr. Deane-Wyman says one of the most important things to consider if you're thinking of waiting to become pregnant is whether you'll actually be able to get pregnant.

"At the age of 32, your fertility starts to decrease slightly. After age 35, that increases much more. So it becomes much more difficult for women to get pregnant," she explained.

The simple fact of life is that as we get older, our bodies do change.

"Once you do get pregnant, there is an increased risk of miscarriage. Starting at age 35, the quality of a woman's eggs begins to decrease, so they are more likely to have genetic disorders with the fetus. And then if they do continue in their pregnancy there are other risks. There are increased risks for complications like diabetes in pregnancy. Issues of high blood pressure in pregnancy, among other things," Dr. Deane-Wyman said.

Now with all that said, if you're a healthy woman, more than likely you can have healthy children into your 30s and even 40s.

But the bottom line here: it is important for women to discuss their family planning with either their general practitioner or their OB/GYN before they get pregnant to make sure they are healthy and ready to have that baby.

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