Halle Berry’s pregnancy is making news, not just because she’s Halle, but because she’s also in her mid-40s.
But, she’s not alone. Fellow celebrity moms Nia Long and Mariah Carey also delivered in their 40s, and recent statistics show women are waiting later to have children in general.
“Some reasons include career aspirations, or they just simply haven’t met the right person yet,” says Renee Volny, an obstetrician and gynecologist. “There are more and more women of advance maternal age looking into options to conceive.”
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Most women of advance maternal age usually opt for assisted reproductive technique (ART) – treatment options to improve conception — in lieu of natural conception. Through ART, births have been reported in women as old as 70 years old.
“It includes in-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and ovulation enhancement drugs, which can increase the likelihood to have a viable egg that can be fertilized and carried to full term,” Volny explains.
ART are used at such high rates in this age bracket, because, as women get older, the question of egg viability or egg quality becomes a concern.
“The reason fertility decreases is because egg quality becomes poorer, so even if you’re ovulating, the chances of getting pregnant decreases,” says Volny.
The fertility rate in women in their mid-40’s have less than a five percent chance of conceiving. And when they do, they have a higher rate of multiples – twins, triplets and quadruplets.
Rolling The Dice
When a woman waits to conceive, it leaves the door open to complications that could affect not only them but their baby as well.
Complications of pregnancy can happen at any point time, no matter what the woman’s age, Volny says. However with advancing age, the woman can have increased risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia. The risk of miscarriage increases as well.
“More complications would also increase the risk of higher hospitalization rates,” says Volny. “Depending on the complications, they need to have more pre-natal visits so they can be monitored.”
But, it’s not clear exactly why older woman have more of a problem carrying a pregnancy.
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