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Is 40 too old to have a baby?

Last updated on June 10, 2019

Read on to learn more about pregnancy at 40.

Can you have a baby at 40?

Pregnancy at 40 can be tough, that’s true. But it’s not impossible to have a baby at 40 years old. Tons of women have had healthy, safe pregnancies at this age.

Usually the first question asked is whether or not it’s even possible to have a baby when you’re 40 years of age or older.

Not only is it possible to have a baby at 40; it’s even pretty typical! From 2007 to 2008 the birth rate for women 40+ went up, whereas the birth rate for women under 40 went down 3 percent.

Miscarriage Risk

  • Age 20 – 1 in 10 women
  • Age 35 – 1 in 5 women
  • Age 40 – 1 in 3 women
  • Age 45 – 1 in 2 women

The risk levels here really don’t change all that much with age.  Make sure to talk to your doctor about your specific risks before trying to get pregnant, though.

Chromosomal Disorder Risk

  • Age 20 – 1 in 526 births
  • Age 35 – 1 in 385 births
  • Age 40 – 1 in 66 births
  • Age 45 – 1 in 21 births

A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime. As she ages, her eggs age, too. And as the eggs age, the risk of genetic abnormalities also increases.

Down Syndrome Risk

  • Age 25: 1 in 1,250 births
  • Age 30: 1 in 1,000 births
  • Age 35: 1 in 400 births
  • Age 40: 1 in 100 births
  • Age 45: 1 in 30 births
  • Age 49: 1 in 10 births

Down syndrome is a genetic chromosomal disorder that causes developmental and intellectual delays in children. These children are born with an extra chromosome – an extra copy of their 21st chromosome, to be exact. Many of the disabilities that come with Down’s syndrome are life-long and can shorten life expectancy.

However, most people with Down syndrome are able to lead healthy, happy, and fulfilling lives. Recent medical advances have provided many opportunities to help overcome this condition’s challenges.

Gestational Diabetes Risk

  • Age 20: 22 in 1,000 women
  • Age 25: 36 in 1,000 women
  • Age 30: 51 in 1,000 women
  • Age 35: 67 in 1,000 women
  • Age 40: 84 in 1,000 women

Pregnancy is a stressor to your body and requires your pancreas to produce more insulin. As such, pregnancy in older women can trigger diabetes.

Preeclampsia Risk

  • Age 20: 38 in 1,000 women
  • Age 25: 37 in 1,000 women
  • Age 30: 36 in 1,000 women
  • Age 35: 39 in 1,000 women
  • Age 40: 48 in 1,000 women

Preeclampsia is a dangerous pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure, often with fluid retention and proteinuria (protein in the urine). It can put you at risk of brain injury, impair kidney and liver functions, cause blood clotting, seizures, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs). It can also sometimes cause maternal or infant death.

Often, preeclampsia requires premature delivery of the baby to save the lives of both mom and baby.

Benefits of Having a Baby at 40

There are actually a ton of great benefits to having a baby during your 40s.  Those benefits include:

Relationship Stability – As opposed to your younger years, you know what it is that you want in life. You’ve found a partner that understands you. You both have a set envision of expectations. At the age of 40, your relationship is better suited for the addition of a baby.

Financial Stability – Typically, women at 40 are more financially stable than they were in their 20s. Plus, you may now have bought a home and have a retirement or college fund. In other words, you’re more prepared for the road ahead financially.

Career Stability – You may have had a job with lots of travel requirements when you were younger. Or maybe you had long work hours, or worked nights. Maybe you wanted to wait until you got that promotion. No matter the case, at 40, your career situation is generally going to be more flexible than it was at 20.

A lot of women tend to think that pregnancies at this age mean a higher risk of birth defects and problems, and that’s generally true. However, there are also tons of healthy pregnancies for women at this age. Check out the statistics below.

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