Strategies to reduce risk of pregnancy complications at an advanced maternal age

Posted On: January 7, 2016 By Nathan D. Fox, MD

older pregnant woman

Although there is an increased risk of complications when the mother is at an advanced maternal age, there aremany suggestions doctors have to help correct the outcome. In a previous post, we discussed at length the increased risks associated with pregnancy in older women. These complications include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Structural malformations
  • Placental disorders, including placenta previa
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birthweight infant
  • Cesarean delivery
  • Perinatal mortality
  • Maternal mortality (an absolute low risk for mothers, but increases in older women)

Despite these risks, women at an advanced maternal age should not be stopped from having children and there are many pregnancies where the outcomes are good. Overall healthy women without any previous complications will not need to be treated just based off their age alone.

However, there are some strategies that older women can use to reduce these risks. It is also recommended to have certain tests done for a doctor to properly diagnose potentially devastating conditions of the fetus. These strategies include:

  • Early ultrasound confirming pregnancy location and health.
  • Taking 81 mg of aspirin daily.
  • Aneuploidy risk assessment, which includes a first trimester blood test and targeted ultrasound. Based on these tests, the patient can decide to undergo CVS or amniocentesis to diagnose or eliminate aneuploidy.
  • Receive a fetal anatomy ultrasound at 16 to 22 weeks, with attention to placental location included. If the placenta is low-lying, it is recommend to receive a follow-up in the third trimester as well.
  • Close medical surveillance for the development of medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension.
  • Weekly antepartum fetal testing beginning at 36 weeks.
  • Nutritional supplements including prenatal vitamin, calcium, and iron.

Following these recommended strategies can decrease any unlikely outcomes of pregnancy. It isn’t unlikely for good pregnancy outcomes to occur. Scheduled testing and monitoring can help tremendously with any abnormalities or changes that may develop during advanced maternal age pregnancy.

Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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