Pregnancy Risks After the Age of 40

Women decide to have children later in life for a variety of reasons. Some wait because they want to take time to mature their careers. Sometimes, empty nest syndrome sets in after the other children leave home, and women want to become mothers again for that reason. While many pregnancies can progress nicely after the age of 40, some of the risks must be considered. The following are some common problems that can arise when a woman carries a child when she is over 40 years of age.

Genetic Abnormalcy Risk

The genetic abnormality is one of the main areas of concern for women over the age of 40. Unfortunately, the female reproductive system is designed to release the healthiest eggs when the woman is younger. Egg quality decreases drastically as she gets older. Therefore, there is a greater chance that she will release an egg that has genetic abnormalities by the time she is in her 40s. The chances for genetic disorders such as Down’s Syndrome are very high at that time in a woman’s life. An OBGYN Virginia specialist can run tests on a pregnant woman to test the likelihood that the child will develop Down’s syndrome. Doctors usually conduct such tests between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy.

Greater Risk of Miscarriage

The miscarriage percentage is also higher in women over 40 years of age. Part of it is because of the lower egg quality, and part of it is because of the hormonal changes that an older woman goes through. A woman in her 40s may need to take progesterone or some other hormones to keep the baby safe until the placenta takes over. Incompetent cervix is another condition that sometimes occurs in older women, as well. Interested women should see a gynecologist and have them run tests beforehand to ensure that their hormone levels and egg production levels are healthy.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is another condition that is more likely to happen to a woman in her 40s than it is likely to happen to someone younger. The symptoms of gestational diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue. The good news is that most obstetricians test pregnant women for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure may also occur in a woman who carries a child over the age of 40. It’s likely to happen when the woman gets into the 20th week of pregnancy. Symptoms of hypertension may include headaches, nosebleeds, anxiety, shortness of breath, and more.


Preeclampsia is a severe condition that also is likely to occur in a mother who is over 40 years of age. It’s also a high risk for a mother who is under the age of 20. It’s a condition that can cause damage to various organs in the mother, such as the kidneys, liver, heart, and more. If it’s not treated early, it can develop into the life-threatening full-blown condition of eclampsia. A doctor will need to run tests on the blood and the urine and check the mother’s blood pressure if she exhibits any symptoms of preeclampsia. Those symptoms include facial swelling, shortness of breath, small amounts of urination, and headaches. An affected person may also experience blurred vision, loss of vision, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.


An older mother could also develop anemia during the course of her pregnancy. She may lose a lot of iron and B vitamins as her child absorbs it to grow. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, shortness of breath, and cold hands and feet. Doctors can prescribe pregnant women a regiment of iron pills and vitamins to help them build the nutrients in their system and keep the baby nourished at the same time.

Proceed With Caution

You must consider the risks mentioned above if you are thinking about having a child after the age of 40. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to have a healthy and gorgeous child at that age. Contacting a reliable high-risk pregnancy obstetrician is the right move to make to ensure that everything goes smoothly and any possible problems are addressed immediately.

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