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The truth about late-life pregnancy

india Updated: Nov 13, 2006 15:29 IST
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Despite the high rate of pregnancy complications in women in their 50s, the birth outcomes are generally good, says a new study.

"No severe birth defects related to premature delivery occurred among the babies born to the women in a study, even though the premature birth rate was high," said researchers.

Women who contemplate a pregnancy in their 50s need to be made aware that they face increased health risk and so do their babies.

That doesn't mean that late-life pregnancies should not be attempted, researcher Russell Kirby of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said. Kirby was a researcher on one of the few other published studies to examine birth outcomes among women 50 and older.

Researchers from Israel's Sheba Medical Centre studied women who gave birth in their sixth decade and beyond and found that they had a much higher risk of pregnancy and delivery-related complications than women who gave birth in their mid- to late 40s, reported the online edition of health magazine WebMD.

The older women in the study were hospitalised during pregnancy almost three times as often as the 45- to 49-year-old women, and twice as many delivered low-birth-weight babies.

The researchers characterised the findings among women 50 and older as "disturbing".

Over half of the age 50-plus mothers-to-be (63 percent) were hospitalised during pregnancy, compared with 22 percent who were younger than 50.

And 61 percent of the age 50-plus women delivered low-birth-weight babies, compared with 32 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 49.

"I would be a strong advocate of patient choice in this matter, but women have to know the risks," Kirby said.

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