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Pregnancy After Age 35: Why It's "High Risk" and How You Can Stay Healthy

Pregnancy After Age 35: Why It's "High Risk" and How You Can Stay Healthy

Pregnancy is a remarkable journey, but there are some added concerns when you conceive after the age of 35. While often labeled “high risk,” most women who conceive after 35 have smooth pregnancies. 

Board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Sharon Breit and our team at the Center for Women’s Health provide comprehensive services, including prenatal care, to women in Wichita, Kansas, and the surrounding areas. 

Pregnancy over 35 is relatively common, and the trend toward later-life pregnancies has continued to rise. There’s no magic number for the ideal age of pregnancy. When it comes to the risk of complications, factors such as personal medical history also come into play. 

Risks associated with pregnancy after age 35

There are some unique risks associated with pregnancy after the age of 35, but many women in this age range have healthy and safe pregnancies. Here are some of the key concerns to be aware of:

Increased chances of chromosomal abnormalities

One of the primary reasons pregnancies after the age of 35 are classified as high risk is the increased likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. Women are born with all of their eggs, and as they age, egg quality and quantity decline. 

A study in mice sheds light on the connection between age at pregnancy and the risk of chromosomal abnormalities. As eggs age, a key protein responsible for keeping chromosome pairs tightly connected declines, boosting the risk for issues like Down syndrome. 

Higher risk of pregnancy complications

Women over 35 are more susceptible to certain pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. These conditions can affect both the mother and the baby, making close monitoring essential. 

Depending on your situation, Dr. Breit may recommend more frequent prenatal visits. Catching potential issues early is crucial for minimizing potential complications.

Preterm birth and low birth weight

Pregnancy over the age of 35 can also contribute to a higher risk of preterm birth and babies born with low birth weight. Fortunately, proper prenatal care and following medical advice can reduce these risks.

Staying healthy during pregnancy

Despite the potential challenges of pregnancy after 35, many women can enjoy a healthy journey by taking an active approach to their health. Here are some essential tips to help you stay as healthy as possible:

Prioritize prenatal care

Consistent prenatal care is crucial for any pregnancy, and it’s more so for women over 35. Regular checkups give Dr. Breit the opportunity to monitor your pregnancy closely, detect potential issues early, and manage them promptly. 

Maintain a balanced diet

A nutritious diet plays a major role in supporting a healthy pregnancy. Women over 35 should focus on eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. 

Adequate intake of essential nutrients like folate, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids promotes fetal development. Dr. Breit may recommend prenatal vitamins to ensure that you’re meeting your and your baby’s nutritional needs during this special time. 

Stay active

Keeping your body moving is beneficial before, during, and after pregnancy, regardless of age. Regular exercise can help manage weight, reduce stress, and decrease the risk of issues like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Activities like walking, swimming, and yoga are generally safe.

Manage stress

Pregnancy can be a stressful time, particularly for older mothers who may worry about the risks. Find ways to balance stress, especially during pregnancy. Taking time for relaxation and to engage in stress-relieving activities can go a long way in lowering the impact of stress. 

While your biological clock is a fact of life, close monitoring throughout your pregnancy sets you on the path to as healthy a pregnancy as possible. To learn more and for all of your prenatal care and family planning needs, contact us at the Center for Women’s Health.

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