It is fairly common in our society for women to delay pregnancy, especially when compared to our parents’ generation. For a variety of reasons including career goals and delayed marriage, many women are waiting until their 30’s to start families. Waiting may consider these moms “high-risk” by most obstetricians for being of advanced maternal age, over 35 years old. Advanced maternal age is a well known risk factor for having a child with a chromosomal abnormality, such as Downs Syndrome. However, there has been little information on maternal age in relation to congenital abnormalities, or physical defects.
According to a new study, advanced maternal age might not be as risky as some may believe. In fact, it may actually decrease the risk of congenital malformations.
“…this retrospective study used obstetric and ultrasound information collected from over 76,000 women at the time they presented for their routine second trimester ultrasound at Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.). Researchers compared the incidence of having one or more major congenital malformations diagnosed at the time of ultrasound in women who were younger than 35 versus those women 35 years and older.
Also examined was the incidence of major malformations of women categorized by organ system including heart, brain and kidney. Overall, we found that advanced maternal age was associated with a 40 percent decreased risk of having a child with one or more major congenital malformations, after controlling for other risk factors. Specifically, the incidence of brain, kidney, and abdominal wall defects were decreased in this group of women, while the incidence of heart defects was unchanged.” (Source)