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Pregnancy After 50? Here’s The Facts

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So, you are thinking about having a baby. You've been planning for it, putting money aside, and making your nest. Only one doubt exists - and that's your age. More pregnancies are coming later in life for many couples, but starting a family, or adding to a family, pregnancy after 50 is certainly at the center of debate. Although late-life pregnancy success stories do exist, with 66 years old holding the current record, there are also many sad stories of failure, and that is where the debate begins.

With 4 million new moms in the US each year, more than 100K of them are over the age of 40. Today's changing trends in couples' lifestyles certainly increases the chances of later-in-life, planned pregnancies. But this wait makes it harder for couples to conceive, and a lot of that has to do with this new lifestyle of the modern couple.

The typical couple of the 21st century can mostly be defined as D.I.N.K.'s (double-income no kids) and living high-stress, busy lives with both working equally demanding jobs. Because of this shift in married couples' lifestyles, delayed family planning almost becomes necessary.

An example of these changing trends takes a look at the average age of new mothers. In 2002, the average age of a new mother was 25 in the US and 29 in the UK; and that can be compared to just 30 years ago when the average age of a new mother was 21 in the US and 26 in the UK. *

But, in today's fast-paced and diverse world, there is no one-size-fits-all, and every family must evaluate their individual situation and decide what is best for them. Getting the facts is important before making any decision, and now is as good a time as any to get armed with information about pregnancy after 50.

For most women, their reproductive dreams end at menopause, which typically comes between the ages of 40 and 51; while men, on the other hand, remain fertile their entire lives. So women have a door of opportunity, and once that is closed, it is closed forever... or is it?

Today's technology advances enable more women over the age of 50 to get pregnant, thanks to developments in procedures such as in vitro fertilization. Every year, more than 20 babies are born to women over the age of 50 as a direct result of this particular type of advancement.

Even with the widely available medical assistance for conception, there are still many risks tied to later-life pregnancies. Not only does delayed family planning pose risks for health problems like preeclampsia, and for pregnancy problems like a miscarriage, but women over 50 are more than three times at risk for premature or low-weight births when compared to women under 30.

That is just the tip of the iceberg of facts drawn from the many scientific reports and studies out there; but even facing risks such as these, many women still pursue the dream and have successfully added babies to their families while they were in their 50's and 60's. In fact, these risks aren't imminent only in later-life pregnancies; they really begin to increase very early in the game, starting at the young age of 35.

The topic of women being pregnant after 50 has been, and will continue to be, at the center of debate. France even went so far as to prohibit any postmenopausal pregnancies, and any subsequent medical intervention, in the 1990's due to the imminent health risks posed to mother and child.

The best way to plan for a later-life pregnancy is to help lower your risks by being proactive and educating yourself. Of course, exercise is a life elixir, as is healthy living; so eating right, working out and avoiding bad habits like nicotine is always a step in the right direction. But, the very first step you should take is to consult your doctor, who is best suited to analyze your individual situation and risks.

*(US Census Bureau and BBC news report 2001) http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/press/2007-news/the-rgs-review-of-scotlands-population.html.

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