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Straight, No Chaser: Advanced Maternal Age

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD December 7, 2019



Times have changed. Marriages are increasingly career-focused, and couples more and more choose to have babies later in life. It is helpful that these decisions can now be aided by recent innovations in medicine regarding fertility. Unfortunately, changes in societal norms don’t remove risks inherent in the human condition. Advanced Maternal Age is a medical consideration for any woman considering childbirth after age 35. The bottom line is advanced maternal age comes with risks. If you or a loved one is considering childbirth after age 35, you need to be aware of these risks and how to minimize them. These include the following.
It likely will take longer to get pregnant.
If pregnant, you will have an increased risk of miscarriage.
If successfully pregnant, you’re more likely to have any of several medical conditions, including the following:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Placental previa (in which the “afterbirth” material can inadvertently cover all or part of the uterine opening, causing bleeding and a need for C-section)

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If you successfully deliver, your child is more likely to be at risk for any of several medical conditions, including the following:

  • Down Syndrome and other chromosomal birth defects, causing abnormalities in the transmission of heredity information via the genes)
  • Low birth weight and prematurity


Even though you can never eliminate the above risks, you can reduce them. Consider the following among the list of healthy choices you should make to give yourself the best change to have a healthy baby at an advanced maternal age. All of these recommendations should be adapted in conjunction with your obstetrician.
Get prenatal care before you actually get pregnant and keep it during your pregnancy. You will need to discuss your personalized risks, your health profile, the correct strategy for weight gain, and any prenatal testing that may be necessary.
Eat a nutritious diet, including recommended amounts of calcium, folic acid, iron, Vitamin D, and a daily prenatal vitamin. These dietary habits should begin well before you become pregnant.
Stay physically active. Health basics are even more important during this time.
Getting pregnant at an advanced maternal age is a serious decision. Approach it with the consideration and caution it deserves. 
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
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