Why Maternal Age Matters

National study measures how advanced maternal age affects mothers and their babies

Women over 35 face higher risks of birth complications but good prenatal care can help manage the risks, a new report suggests. A report released from the Canadian Institute for Health Information entitled In Due Time: Why Maternal Age Matters, looked at more than one million births across Canada from 2006 to 2009 in order to examine the impact that advanced maternal age can have on both mothers and their babies.
While many older mothers are able to have healthy birth experiences, the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth begin to rise around age 35 and increase dramatically for mothers aged 40 and older. According to the largest Canadian study ever done on risks associated with advanced maternal age:

– Almost one in five births in Canada is to a mother over the age of 35

– Fifty percent of first-time mothers over 40 have a cesarean delivery

– Babies born to older mothers more likely to face adverse birth outcomes

– One in every eight mothers 40 or older developed gestational diabetes (compared to 1 in 12 for the 35 to 39 age group and 1 in 24 for the 20 to 24 age group)

– One in every nine babies of older moms (age 40+) are born prematurely (compared to 1 in 11 in the 35-to-39 age group and 1 in 13 in the 20 to 34 group)

– Mothers age 40 and older were at least three times more likely to develop certain complications than younger mothers

For expectant women 35 or older, especially fist-time mothers, these findings highlight the need for good prenatal care and prenatal screening for potential problems.
Read the full report: http://secure.cihi.ca/cihiweb/products/AIB_InDueTime_WhyMaternalAgeMatters_E.pdf

Kathryn Dewar, Health Services Delivery Research Manager

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