50 & Pregnant
50 & Pregnant
It sounds like a Lifetime movie, but extreme middle age births are exploding. According to the most recent CDC statistics, 8,000 babies were born to women 45 and older. That's double the number since just 1997. Of these, an alarming 541were born to women age 50 and older, a 375 percent increase in the same time period.
In adoption, the trend is even more pronounced with 25 percent of adopted children living in families parented by someone older than 45.
Much of this is due to advances in reproductive technology. On a cultural level, "40+ and Fabulous" Hollywood moms garner a lot of attention. Marcia Cross, Susan Sarandon, Marcia Gay Harden, Geena Davis, Holly Hunter, and Cheryl Tiegs all had babies well into their mid-40s. (A then 52-year old Tiegs used a surrogate for her second child.)
Personally, the combination of grey hair and teething would make me run to the pharmacy counter for some birth control. Personal feelings aside, the odds are stacked against a successful pregnancy in middle age or beyond with risk factors like pre-term labor, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and that's just on the mother's part. Statistically, babies born to older parents face higher likelihood of autism, developmental delays, neurological problems, or heart and lung issues.
Despite the steep odds, many babies born to older parents are carried to term and continue to have perfectly normal childhoods. Many of you working in OB offices probably find yourself in a similar "who am I to judge?" conundrum. We'd love any advice you can offer on counseling an increasingly older population of parents.