Pregnancy is an exciting time for any woman, but for those over 35, being pregnant can come with certain health risks.
If you’re adding to your family later in life, you should understand why your pregnancy might be considered high-risk, so you can get the right care — for yourself and your baby.
Board-certified OB/GYN A. Michael Coppa, MD, specializes in high-risk obstetrics in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island. He understands all the ways your age can affect your experience during pregnancy, and he provides advanced prenatal care for moms-to-be over 35.
Here’s what Dr. Coppa and our team want you to know about the possible risks of being pregnant when you’re over age 35, and how to ensure you and your baby stay as healthy as possible.
Increased likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities
One of the main reasons that pregnant women over 35 are considered high-risk is because age is linked to increased likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus.
As you get older, your chance of having a baby with Down syndrome or other chromosomal conditions increases. Why? The quality of your eggs deteriorates over time, leading to a higher risk of genetic errors during fertilization.
Women over 35 are also at increased risk of pregnancy loss, because chromosomal abnormality is the most common cause of miscarriage and stillbirth.
Increased chance of twins or other multiples
Your chance of having twins, triplets, or higher-order multiples goes up as you get older. That’s because age-related hormonal changes make it more likely that your ovaries release more than one egg at the same time.
Being pregnant with multiples also makes your pregnancy higher-risk. Carrying multiples increases your risk of certain pregnancy complications and preterm birth, so it’s important to get regular prenatal care.
Increased risk of pregnancy complications
After 35, you have a greater chance of experiencing certain pregnancy-related conditions and complications, including:
- Placenta previa
- Placenta accreta
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
These conditions can be life-threatening for both mom and baby, and require close monitoring and management by your prenatal care team. Women over 35 are also at a higher risk of having a cesarean delivery, or C-section.
How to manage your high-risk pregnancy
Despite these risks, remember that every pregnancy is unique and not all older women experience complications. With proper care and monitoring, many women over 35 can have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
If you’re over 35, seek prenatal care from an obstetrician with experience managing high-risk pregnancies. At Dr. Coppa’s practice, we recommend scheduling your first prenatal appointment as early as possible, so we can evaluate your health and start working to minimize any potential risks.
You may need more frequent prenatal appointments, along with regular screenings for chromosomal abnormalities and close monitoring of any pregnancy-related conditions.
We can also recommend healthy lifestyle changes, like maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding risky behaviors like smoking and alcohol consumption.
Being pregnant after 35 can come with added risks, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy pregnancy or a healthy baby. Book an appointment online or call our offices to schedule your first prenatal appointment and learn more.