Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 39

TRUE OR FALSE:

Something happens to women's bodies at 35 that makes
pregnancy more challenging
and risky.

FALSE. There is nothing magical
about age 35, says Siobhan Dolan, MD,
medical adviser for the March of Dimes,
an organization that seeks to prevent
birth defects and fight premature births.
There is history to 35, though. The
age used to mark the time when the
risk of having a baby with a serious
genetic condition was about the same
as having a miscarriage as a result of
amniocentesis, an invasive procedure
that tests for genetic conditions and is
more commonly done after age 35.
These days, the miscarriage risk is
much lower, and doctors recognize
that what matters is an individual
woman's age and health history. Still,
the number persists in our culture.

TRUE OR FALSE:

If you're younger than 35,
an amniocentesis simply
isn't done.

FALSE. Amniocentesis is a test
that looks for problems in the developing baby, including birth defects and
genetic disorders. It can reveal Down
syndrome, the risk of which rises with
the mother's age.
While amniocentesis is not typically
done in younger women, the test is a
choice. Younger women may opt for it
because they have had a previous baby
with a birth defect or a family history
of genetic disorders.
"If you want to know for sure, you
should have the test," Dolan says. "Today,
we're more focused on what we call a
personalized risk assessment."

Whatever her age, it's up to each
woman to work with her doctor to
understand her options and risks.

TRUE OR FALSE:

It's harder to conceive after
age 35.

TRUE. "The facts are that as you
get older, it can take longer" to become
pregnant, Dolan says.
According to the American Society
for Reproductive Medicine, a woman
has about 300,000 eggs at puberty, and
she will ovulate about 300 times during her reproductive years. The eggs
that don't ovulate go through a natural
degenerative process. As the number of
available eggs in her ovaries decreases,
a woman's fertility declines.
While a healthy, fertile woman who
is trying to conceive has a 20 percent
chance of getting pregnant each month
when she's 30, her chances are approximately 5 percent by age 40.

TRUE OR FALSE:

As a woman ages, there are
more health risks during
pregnancy.

TRUE, BUT ... Yes, as a woman
ages, certain pregnancy risks increase.
For example, premature birth, low
birth weight, miscarriage and other
issues are more common in older
women than in younger women.
Some of these problems can be
attributed to conditions such as high
blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
As Dolan points out, your personal
circumstances play a huge role.
"If you come to me and you're 32
and morbidly obese, with diabetes and
hypertension, you're at a higher risk
than if you're 38 and healthy," she says. ■

WATCH YOUR

WEIGHT

Half of women enter pregnancy overweight or obese, says Annelee Boyle,
MD, a board-certified OB-GYN, who is
part of a team of UVA Health System
maternal-fetal medicine experts. This
group specializes in high-risk pregnancies (when there are complications
that could affect the mother, the fetus
or both).
Although pregnancy is not the time
to try to lose weight, Boyle says, it's
important to limit weight gain during
pregnancy with moderate exercise, a
healthy and balanced diet, and regular
prenatal care.
Being obese during pregnancy can
lead to complications for both mom
and baby. "Moms are more likely to
develop diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy. Babies are
more likely to have birth defects or be
born large," Boyle says. "But no matter
what your size, a good pregnancy outcome is possible with specialized care."

APPOINTMENTS

Thinking
of Getting
Pregnant?
Pregnancy can be wonderful,
but it also has its challenges.
Make sure you're ready.
Schedule an appointment
with a UVA Health System
OB-GYN. Go to uvahealth.
com/havingababy.

SUMME R 2017

39


http://uvahealth.com/havingababy http://uvahealth.com/havingababy

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - 3
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Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover4
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