Now before you start imagining Grandma with a bump, let me explain. Originally the term “geriatric pregnancy” was meant to describe the pregnancy of a woman who was 35 years or older. At some point (probably after being verbally and physically assaulted by hormonal mommies-to-be) the medical community decided to change that term to “advanced maternal age.” Now on to the mythbusting!


In recent years, women have started childrearing later in their lives due to multiple reasons. From increased birth control and higher career goals to longer life expectancy, women are choosing to have children later. In the ten years prior to 2000, the average age a woman gave birth to her first child increased from 25 to 27 years old. As pregnancies in older women become more common, so do the myths about these pregnancies.

Women have to deal with common misconceptions including infertility. Media reports often suggest that decreased fertility is a severe problem as early as the late 20s. In reality, the risk of sterility is present at low rates even in the early 20s and increases slowly over time. At age 34 only 10% of women are sterile and that increases to 85% by age 44. In contrast to female infertility, it is rarely mentioned that male age also has an effect on infertility. It may be of interest to cougars everywhere that younger men have lower rates of infertility than older ones.

Once a woman over age 35 gets pregnant, she must often deal with assumptions about the health of her pregnancy and child. Maternal or fetal health complications can lead to early labor. Some studies have found that older mothers are at higher risk for preterm labor but these reports are conflicting. Generally, older women are not at increased risk for early labor before 32 weeks (37 weeks is considered normal for delivery). However, very preterm birth (before 28 weeks) is increased in older women. Interestingly, low-birth-weight babies have increased survival rates when they are born to older women-possibly due to better emotional, financial, and medical support.

Another common myth is that mothers with advanced maternal age are at very high risk for birth defects, such as Down syndrome. While this risk does increase over time, only 0.8% of babies born to 40-year-old mothers have Down syndrome. By age 45, this risk increases to 3.5%. It is also important to note that 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under age 35, since that is when most women have children.

As usual, the myths tossed around about older women and pregnancy are never as simple as they seem. However, women of any age that have been trying to get pregnant for a year should see a fertility specialist. By age 35, it is suggested that women see a health care practitioner about their fertility if not pregnant after 6 months of trying.



Interesting article, thanks

Get Pregnant

interesting myth bust, something i will definitely considered when planning for another pregnancy

Nancy Stone Ob/Gyn

Very interesting article and site. We are making note of your blog for future reference. Thank you.


So what might be the oldest possible age to get pregnant?
If you missed your chance of getting pregnant at a young age because of career then up to what point in life can you still hope for to have a baby.


Absolutely wonderful post. I enjoyed the myth-busting very much. I certainly advocate that with the right nutrition and with common-sense healthy lifestyle practices, women can give birth later in life than the myths had led us to believe.

Pregnancy Age 3...

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monica wood

Hi all...
This is indeed an interesting article !

These days, an estimated 20 percent of women hold off until after the age of 35 to have children, relishing their careers and other aspects of their lives before settling down and starting a family. A significant shift in attitudes towards modern motherhood has made this procrastination much more common, resulting in higher numbers of geriatric pregnancies. Indeed, many high-profile figures including Madonna, Halle Berry and wife of the former British Prime Minister Cherie Blair have all had pregnancies during their 40s, reinforcing social acceptance of late-blooming mothers.

In a BBC News article, gynecologist Dr. Peter Bowen-Simpkins encouraged women to have babies before the age of 35 and certainly before the age of 40, if possible. Doing so relieves the pressure of declining fertility and the need to undergo fetal abnormality tests, he noted.

Thanks in advance :))

Suzanne Fortin

Agree but it also depends on few other elements, like weather, diet etc.

How old...?

I am 49 and had both of my boys (8 and 11) at an "advanced maternal age." Now, after trying to get more healthy to overcome several age-related problems I have been having, I find myself pregnant again. My husband and I are in complete shock, as we were trying NOT to get pregnant. I am at 11 weeks, and will be 50 by the due date. I know I'm not the record-breaker, but certainly an outlier. Don't give up hope, ladies - if you stay healthy, it can happen to you. Thanks for the article!

Willard Smathers

You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the information I already searched everywhere and just could not locate it. What a great site.


0.8% rate of Downs at 40 translates to 1 in 125. That is NOT an insignificant rate! And 3.5% at 45 is 1 in 28! This article is guilty of skewing the significance of statistics. Talk to your OBGYN first if you are planning a pregnancy at an advanced age, especially >40

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