ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Childbirth is thought by many to be one of life’s greatest miracles, but is there an age when that miracle can become a disaster.
The average age that a woman gives birth in the U.S. is 26.2 years old, according to The World Factbook. While it is not unheard of for people to have a child later in life, added risks can come with added age.
Fertility rates tend to trend with the amount of eggs that a person has at any age, according to Healthline. Women begin puberty with around 300,000-500,000 eggs, but that number drops to around 25,000 at age 37 and continues to drop to 1,000, or less, by age 51.
That means that women younger than 30 have an 85% chance of getting pregnant naturally, but will drop to 44% by age 40. Women that undergo artificial reproductive technology have a 31% of getting pregnant if they are younger than 35. That number drops down to only 3% by 43 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are multiple risks that come if a women gets pregnant if they are older. For example, the drop in egg quality that comes with age can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage. In addition, chromosome issues become more prevalent if a women gets pregnant when she is older.
Around 1 in 1,480 women risk having a child with Down Syndrome if they get pregnant at 20, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That number drops down to 1 in 85 by age 40.
In addition, increased age comes with an increased risk of having a cesarean delivery, or C-section. Twenty-six percent of women at age 20 have this procedure, but that number jumps to 40% by age 35 and 48% by age 40.
One of the biggest indicators for if a women can get pregnant later in life is menopause, or the stopping of the menstrual cycle for a year or longer. The average age for reaching this milestone is around 51 years old. While it is difficult to get pregnant at this age, it is not impossible.
Perimenopause is a period before the menstrual cycle completely stops. Cycles during this time become longer, but they also become less regular. Women are still producing eggs during this time, meaning that they are still fertile. However, pregnancy becomes much more difficult to acheive.
While it is not impossible for older women to get pregnant and bring a child into the world, they should check with their doctors before starting that journey to learn about the benefits and risks.