Years ago, pregnancies in women ages 35 and over were considered “high risk” and discouraged by doctors. Changes in women’s work and improved contraception have led women to postpone childbearing until later in life. While older women do face more pregnancy-induced health problems than younger women and are more likely to suffer miscarriages, their chances of giving birth to a healthy baby are improving.
A recent study published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that there was no statistically significant difference in infant mortality rates for older and younger mothers. While this is a positive development, study authors stressed that women over age 40 had higher rates of complications including high blood pressure rates and diabetes and were more than twice as likely to have Caesarean births than were younger women. The risk of complications was especially high among older women who were first-time mothers. More than 60% of older new mothers required surgical intervention (including Caesarean sections) during labor.