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Pregnancy at 40: what are the risks?

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Pregnancy at 40: what are the risks?
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The passage of years, even if it brings achievement and socio-professional fulfillment, is not at all to the advantage of couples who want to become parents after 40 years. If men’s fertility does not suffer so much – the passage of years does not affect the production of seminal fluid, but rather its quality and quantity, a woman’s fertility is greatly affected once she has crossed the border of 35 years, Dr. Vythoulkas told us.

Aging causes a sharp decrease in the ovarian reserve, first of all, but also in the quality of the oocytes that can hide, most often, chromosomal abnormalities, the greatest risk being Down syndrome, which leads to increased risks of spontaneous abortion and of congenital malformations.

Along with age come many other gynecological problems, among the most common being pelvic infections, damage to the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids that become acute over time, added Dr. Vythoulkas.

Other factors that can lead to a decrease in fertility are the (more) low frequency of sexual relations, as well as the decrease in libido, the aging of the endometrium (the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the uterus), but also extra pounds, obesity being one of the causes of infertility.

Regardless of whether the pregnancy was achieved naturally or through in vitro fertilization, the expectant mother is subject to possible risks:

Pregnancy or gestational diabetes – it is different from other types of diabetes, in that it appears during pregnancy and disappears after birth; it is a risk factor for the occurrence of hypertension during pregnancy, and the child may have an increased weight at birth

Preeclampsia – is characterized by an increased blood pressure value and an increased urinary protein level, it leads to a decrease in fetal oxygenation and sometimes to liver, kidney or brain function problems in the mother

High blood pressure – there are many cases in which pregnant women experience high blood pressure and, normally, it is not dangerous. However, blood pressure should be monitored closely because it may be the first sign of preeclampsia

Placenta Previa – represents an anomaly of the insertion of the placenta, located too low in the uterus, preventing the natural growth of the fetus

Placenta Abruptio – premature detachment of the placenta

Premature birth

In the case of babies whose mothers are over 40 years old, the possible risks are related to premature birth, heart problems caused by the quality of the eggs, or failure to detect gestational diabetes and hypertension in time. They may also have a lower birth weight or suffer from various genetic defects, such as Down syndrome (more common), added Dr. Vythoulkas.

However, in order to prevent the occurrence of complications, the expectant mother should go to the doctor for detailed monitoring and investigations. Some of the most important, in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, are the double and triple tests, which monitor the risk of Down syndrome and trisomy 13 and 18, as well as neural tube defects.

If these prenatal screening tests indicate a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities, another important test is likely to follow, amniocentesis – an invasive diagnostic method in which a needle is inserted into the abdomen to extract and analyze a small sample of amniotic fluid .

statistics say that a 40-year-old woman has a 20% chance of getting pregnant naturally?

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