Medicine: Late pregnancies increase the risk of serious complications

Late pregnancy: Older mothers are at higher risk of complications
The average age of mothers continues to rise. A new study has now shown that late pregnancy is not only a risk for the offspring, but also for the mother. In Germany, a woman from the age of 35 is classified as a high-risk pregnant woman.

Late pregnancy is not only a risk for the baby
Pregnancy at the age of 40 is no longer an exception, especially in richer countries. Scientific studies have already shown that this is associated with health risks. For example, researchers from the “Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Institute” reported on their study last year, in which it was found that expectant mothers over the age of 40 have a greatly increased risk of stroke. A new analysis of the data from hundreds of thousands of pregnant women has now also confirmed that late pregnancy poses a risk not only for the baby, but also for the mother.

More life-threatening complications
As the team led by Sarka Lisonkova from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada) reports in the specialist magazine "PLOS Medicine", there are more life-threatening complications with increasing age.

According to the study author, previous studies had shown that older pregnant women are at higher risk for diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The current evaluation now also indicates a higher risk of death.

In order to arrive at their results, the scientists had analyzed the health data of 800,000 pregnant women from the US state of Washington from 2003 to 2013.

Factors such as obesity or artificial insemination were excluded as influences. The complication rate in women 25 to 29 years old was set as the normal value.

Kidney failure and amniotic fluid embolism
According to the researchers' analysis, the risk of shock with severe circulatory disorder at birth increased significantly from about 40 years of age.

The risk of kidney failure or amniotic fluid embolism also increased. In the latter, amniotic fluid enters the mother's circulation through the uterus during delivery. It often ends in death.

According to the information, on average, 16 out of 1,000 births experienced serious, life-threatening complications, some of which resulted in death. From the age of about 39, the rate increases significantly.

According to the researchers, it was almost one percent higher for mothers aged 40 to 44 than for those aged 25 to 29. Her risk of shock was three times greater than that of amniotic embolism eight times.

In women over 50 years of age, the overall risk of dangerous complications was more than six percent higher.

Strategies to Reduce Maternal Mortality
"The results are important for counseling women who are considering moving their child beyond the age of 40," said Lisonkova, according to a report by the Business Insider.

They also provide "useful information for the health system," the study authors said. "This information is also useful for preventive strategies to reduce maternal mortality," not only in developing countries.

The experts pointed out that "one of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals in 2000 was to reduce maternal mortality by 15 percent in 15 years". But this "was not achieved by many industrialized countries".

The ideal age to get pregnant
In Germany, a woman is classified as a pregnant woman at risk from the age of 35, according to the dpa news agency. Statistically speaking, she has an increased risk of miscarriage and minor complications such as gestational diabetes, increased blood pressure or thrombosis.

According to the agency, almost 13,700 babies of 40-year-olds were born in Germany in 2015. The average age at first birth increased from 28.8 to 29.6 years.

Dr. Nanette Santoro, a researcher at the University of Colorado who was not involved in the current study, said: "Based on this and other studies, the ideal age to become pregnant is between 25 and 29 years old." (Ad)

Author and source information

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