Can maternal age lower birth defect risks

Summary: New research reveals that older mothers have lower risks of giving birth to babies with abnormalities. This contradicts the fear of couples delaying parenthood and risking babies with birth defects due to chromosomal abnormalities. IVF pregnancies are believed to lower risks even further.


The common belief is that the older the mother the higher the risk of birth defects. Couples are advised to have children as soon as possible and not delay. However today there are many other pressures of life and family planning takes a backseat in the drive of life. Delayed parenthood is a common occurrence now days. Couple cannot help it, life is such and they need to focus on their career or they will miss the opportunity life presents. One cannot argue with this logic.

Having children is an important part of life. A family where the female partner stays at home has an advantage. They can plan children and the mother can take care of them. The problem occurs where both partners are working and serious about their careers. Most couple feel that they do not need to worry about having children later with advanced medical science, and to a large extent that is true.

For years it was believed that older mothers had a high risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects related to chromosomal abnormalities. Down syndrome is the most common birth defect caused by chromosomal abnormalities and attributed to older mothers.

The fear begins when the couple are told by the consulting doctor that with the increased maternal age they have a higher possibility of birth defects and pregnancy complications. But recent studies have shown the opposite to be true. In the case of some types of abnormalities and birth defects older women might be able to beat the odds of these risks.

It is a well-known fact that the possibility of a natural pregnancy reduces with increased age. This is because the quality of the eggs and sperm reduces. Older couples should not feel bad about the prospect of considering assisted reproductive techniques. Another study has proved that older mothers who used assisted reproductive techniques like IVF had a lower risk of chromosomal birth defects as compared to those women who conceived naturally. The golden years are proving to be good.

Physical deformities are not caused by chromosomal abnormalities. Older women were advised of the risk of having children who suffered from major congenital malformations. Recently this old school of thought has changed with the new research findings. Older mothers have a lower risk of giving birth to babies with physical deformities as compared to younger mothers.

As a consolidation of all this research we can safely conclude that delayed parenthood helps to reduce risk of not only birth defect caused by abnormalities in chromosomes but also lesser risks of major congenital malformations causing physical deformities.

It has been suggested the perhaps the drugs used for ovary stimulation in the IVF treatment has a protective effect over the eggs of older women. Another theory suggested that the probability of embryos with chromosome defects surviving in older women was less and hence the reduced rate of babies being born with birth defects. Either way the conclusion states that older women can dispel their fears of birth defects and abnormalities and go ahead for an IVF pregnancy.

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