Having a baby is a joyous occasion for any woman, but it may be even more important for a woman to have a pregnancy over 40 years of age. If a woman has went her whole life with no children and decides to try and conceive after the age of 40 she will want to take every possible precaution to make sure her baby will grow and develop healthy.

Some women want to have a career in their earlier years and then have a family after they have an identity in the corporate world. There is nothing wrong with this mentality but all too often women who wait this long may have a harder time getting pregnant than they would have in their younger years. Other risks are involved with having a pregnancy over 40 as well.

A woman who is pregnant and is over the age of 40 will be considered to be a high-risk pregnancy. The chances of having a baby with an abnormality in their chromosomes is a bigger possibility due to their age. A pregnant 20 year old has a 1 in 1,667 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome. A woman who is entering pregnancy over 40 years of age have a 1 in 106 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome. The risk increases each year after the age of 40 dramatically. By age 49 the chance of Down Syndrome increases to 1 in 11. Of course, Down Syndrome is just one of the chromosomal abnormalities a baby can have.

Cystic fibrosis, Sickle cell anemia, and muscular dystrophy are other chromosomal disorders that a newborn baby may have. The odds of a woman going through pregnancy over 40 increase for these other types of disorders as well as Down Syndrome.

Women over the age of 40 carrying a baby will be given the option to have a prenatal diagnosis to see if there is a chromosomal or genetic disorder present. Most babies who have a chromosomal abnormality will die before birth. It normally happens in the first trimester of the pregnancy. Half of all miscarriages that happen in the first trimester of pregnancy will have a chromosomal defect of one kind or another. It’s just nature’s way of taking care of things.

There are risks involved with having these tests to detect abnormalities in the structure of the baby’s chromosomes. The risk is normally higher for the baby but is beneficial if you are over 40 and pregnant to find out if there is a problem. Many couples opt to not have the testing performed because of the danger to the fetus.

Whether you decide to have the testing done or not, you should at least be made aware of the risks involved with a pregnancy over 40 years of age. The choice is yours and you need to think about it long and hard before passing up the opportunity to find out.

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