Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Healthy Pregnancy in 40s, Pregnancy at 40

A rising amount of women are waiting till their 40s to be new mothers. Experts say a number of factors are to blame for this, including the demands of hectic careers, enhanced obstetrical care and longer life expectancy, have contributed to this drift.

"Generations ago, when we were dying at age 50 or 60, it probably wasn't appropriate to be having a newborn at 45. But with the trends in health care, I think it's going to be a definite option that women will continue to pursue."

One of the biggest changes in maternal-age patterns is in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this technique, which was first done in humans a quarter-century ago, egg cells are fertilized outside a woman's body, then transferred to her uterus in the hope that a successful pregnancy will develop.

"Having the ability to take their eggs and fertilize them has been a very successful technology and has gotten better over the years. And with donor eggs we are able to extend that well into the 40s.

"Having children later still remains a choice based on egg quality," Couchman explains. "Women are intended biologically, but maybe not personally, to have children younger. It's far easier to get pregnant in your 20s than in your 30s or 40s.

"The age of the egg is very important. Older women can't always get pregnant with their own eggs. Men make sperm every single day, but women are born with their eggs and that's it. You use them in your teens and your 20s, and whatever's left at 43, that's what you have."

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