Complications in pregnancies for older women can be reduced when right kind of medical care and facilities is available. This is the key finding in the research work done by scientists in Tel Aviv University.
Prof. Yariv Yogev and his colleagues investigated the outcomes for mothers of 45 or more and their children.
"I'd been an attending physician in a delivery ward to a woman over 60 who had twins. I wanted to know if it's ethical to treat older women like this - I wanted to know if it's safe for both mother and child," Yogev said.
There are more complications in pregnancies for older women, but the risks are considerably lessened in a good birthing center, he said.
Most older women, he says, will deliver a healthy child, and the majority of complications that arise in women over 40 are health risks such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. For the most part these risks do not affect the newborn after three days have passed.
Also, he says, a growing number of women past 50 are opting to fly abroad for insemination by an egg donor.
Although Yogev does not encourage waiting later than 40 to start having children naturally - the rates of female fertility drop considerably after this point - the results show that would-be mothers can still give birth to healthy babies even if mom is 45 or even 50.
Mothers over 40 can expect a 300 percent greater chance for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during their pregnancies. Older women also have higher rates of preterm births and placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta blocks the opening to the birth canal.
Yogev's study found that nine percent of older moms had high blood pressure, which affects only 3 percent of younger mothers. Severe bleeding after birth, and metabolic problems in the newborns were additional risk factors found in greater rates among older moms.
After 50, the risks and complications in women became more severe. But the babies themselves overcame the risks in the short term.
The study is published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.