Risks of delaying childbearing may begin before age 35

Contrary to previous beliefs, a new study suggests increased risks related to delayed childbearing may begin before age 35.

Conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the University of Bergen, and published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, this study examined data from about one million first-time mothers in Sweden and Norway. The researchers compared the results of pregnancy for first time mothers over age 30 with those aged 25 to 29.

The researchers were surprised to find that there was an increased risk of negative pregnancy outcomes in women who were in the 30 to 34 age group. These negative effects were independent of whether these moms smoked or were overweight – two factors already known to increase maternal and fetal risks. The women who became first time moms in their early thirties had an increased risk of giving birth very prematurely (at week 22-31) and having a stillbirth. The babies born to these moms had a higher risk of restricted growth and and higher rates of infant mortality. For women in this age group who smoked or were overweight, their risk of pre-term birth, stillbirth, or neonatal death were as high as the risks for the women who became first time mothers in their mid- to late thirties (aged 35-39).  On the basis of these findings lead researcher, Ulla Waldenstrom, concluded:

“For women individually, the risk is small, but for society at large there will be a significant number of ‘unnecessary’ complications with so many women having children just after 30. It would therefore be advisable to inform both women and men, even at schools, of how important age is to childbirth. Biologically the best time is probably 20 to 30.”

Read more about age and fertility herehere, here and here.

Read more about the study here.

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