New Study Sets the Record Straight on 'Advanced Maternal Age' Risks

Think being over 35 will complicate your delivery and up your odds of delivering prematurely? A new study suggests this might not be the case. 

older pregnant woman Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock
There's this idea that age 35 is a reproductive threshold of sorts. People seem to believe that once you hit that age, your chances of conceiving are shot—and if you do manage to get pregnant, your odds of incurring complications are sky high.

But isn't it time that we do away with that idea? Yes, women tend to peak reproductively a bit earlier in life, but women go on to have healthy, beautiful babies after age 35 every single day. The good news? A new study is giving women yet another to reason to feel confident about the viability of pregnancies in their late 30s and 40s. 

The research, which appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests that women over 35 don't have an elevated risk of giving birth to preterm or low birthweight babies. The researchers observed data from thousands of Finnish mothers who had given birth to at least two children. The researchers didn't find an increase in each woman's odds of poor delivery outcomes as her maternal age advanced. 

With that being said, the researchers did find older mothers were, overall, more likely to deliver prematurely—but that's just one factor in the equation, as evidenced by the fact that age alone didn't appear to increase each woman's risk of poor delivery outcomes. The idea here? That age alone may not be enough of a predictor, and that there are many factors that increase a woman's odds of delivering a premature or low birthweight baby.

"For the individual mother, age is not the real cause of the increase in birth risks," researcher Alice Goisis said, according to a release for the study. "The true reasons are more likely to be individual circumstances in the life of the parents or behaviors that are more common in older adults."

So mamas who are over 35, take comfort in this. While you should absolutely discuss any concerns with your doctor, we would urge you to maintain the healthiest lifestyle possible and work to bring down the risk factors that are in your control. As this research demonstrates, age didn't appear to change each woman's delivery odds—and that should be taken as a good sign for all the mamas out there who are set to deliver after age 35. 

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