Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - Community Healthcare - 24

Fertility

Younger women have better odds of becoming pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists reports that fertility begins declining
at age 32 and drops more rapidly after 37.
Yet women are waiting longer to start families. In
2015, the average age at first birth was 26.4 years,
up from 21.4 in 1970. And 9.1 percent of first births
in 2014 were in women ages 35 and older.
Although waiting too long can be risky, many
women over 40 easily become pregnant. That was
the case for Mary Ellen McDonough, of Dedham,
Massachusetts, who had felt that her family was complete with 12- and 8-year-old
daughters and a 9-year-old son. But in her
40s, she found herself expecting again.
"I had one child in my 20s, two in my
30s and one at 42," she says.

Health and
Complications

While there are always exceptions-a fit 40-year-old may
handle pregnancy better than a
20-year-old with diabetes and high
blood pressure-generally, younger
women are stronger and healthier.
"Younger women can withstand
the rigors of pregnancy," says Michael
Thomas, MD, former board chairman
of the Association of Reproductive Health
Professionals. During pregnancy, the body
adds a lot of weight and fluid, and younger
women are more likely to have healthy hearts
and kidneys and faster metabolisms to deal with
those demands.
Women ages 35 and older face higher risks with
pregnancy. Older women are more likely to have or
develop high blood pressure, which can cause problems with the placenta and the baby's growth.
They are also at higher risk of gestational diabetes,
which is linked with miscarriage and a condition in
which the baby grows too large. And they are more
likely to have a baby with a birth defect linked to a
chromosomal disorder.
But, of course, there are countless examples of
older moms having no problems at all.

24

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - Community Healthcare

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