Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 27

How Old Is
Too Old?

Strength and Stamina

"There are definitely cases where younger moms have more energy," Garbus
says. But lots of factors can contribute to energy levels during pregnancy,
including morning sickness and the demands of work or other children.
McDonough says she had a lot of energy with her first pregnancy, in her
20s. "I was so excited, and I wasn't nauseous," she says.
But while carrying her second and third babies, she had the demands of
one young child, and then two, to contend with, and she was exhausted. Her
fourth pregnancy came so many years after the third that she could rest if she
needed to. "The kids were older, and they could fend for themselves," she says.

Life Experience

Most would agree that having a baby as a teenager isn't ideal, and the teen
birth rate has been declining for years. But for very young women who do
become pregnant, they face different risks than older moms-to-be. The
brain's prefrontal cortex isn't fully developed until the early 20s, and that
can affect reasoning in various ways.
"Younger moms can be less likely to keep their appointments," Garbus
says. They are also more likely to have multiple partners and less likely to
have the support of a long-standing relationship. ■

Women in their 50s, 60s and even 70s have
given birth, but the odds of successfully
conceiving and carrying a baby to term
decline steeply as women age. And older
women are more likely to face health risks
during pregnancy. Still, not everyone can
plan their family when they are at their peak
physical health and fertility.
"People get into new relationships, or
they have a life-altering experience and
think about having a child later in life," says
Michael Thomas, MD, former board chairman of the Association of Reproductive
Health Professionals.
For older women who want to try
to conceive, it's critical to have any existing medical issues diagnosed and wellcontrolled. That will help increase the
odds of a healthy pregnancy for both the
mother and the baby.
"In women who are older, I'm looking for underlying medical conditions,"
says Robert Atlas, MD, a member of the
American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists. Older women have higher
rates of diabetes, hypertension, obesity,
vascular diseases, lupus, kidney problems
and other medical conditions that can
complicate pregnancies.
"But age is relative," Atlas points out.
"I have taken care of many women above
age 45 who have had successful deliveries. If you have the motivation, the desire
and the health, there should be no specific
age holding you back from getting what
you desire."

WEBSITE

Your Pregnancy
Helper
By choosing UVA Health System,
you'll find all the experts and
resources you need to grow
your family. Learn more at
uvahealth.com/birth.

SUMME R 2018

27


http://www.uvahealth.com/birth

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 2
Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - 3
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Vim & Vigor - Summer 2018 - University of Virginia - Cover3
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