What is geriatric pregnancy?

 Pregnancy is the period of gestation from fertilization of a female egg, its development into a fetus, till its delivery as a new-born. This period in any females’ life is very special and care is taken to make sure it is hitch free.  Even though geriatrics is a term reserved for adults greater than 65 years, the term geriatric pregnancy is actually a misnomer because it has nothing to do with the age of 65. It is pregnancy in females aged 35 and above. This is so named because just as geriatrics is associated with older people, in pregnancy, women older than 35 years are considered older. This is not to mean that such women cannot have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Health risks of geriatric pregnancy:

Special care is taken for such women because they are more likely to have some health risks during pregnancy to both them and their unborn child.  Geriatric pregnancies are associated with the following risks:

•             Older women tend to take longer to conceive because they may not ovulate as regularly as women below 35 years of age.

•             They are also prone to having multiple pregnancies because the unpredictable ovulation in the aging ovary may also result in the release of multiple eggs

•             Such pregnancies are also associated with a higher risk of gestational diabetes which means diabetics resulting from pregnancy. This is more likely if there is a family history of diabetes mellitus.

•             There is also a higher risk of pregnancy induced hypertension.

The child also has some health risks associated with this pregnancy. They include:

•             The greater chance of chromosomal abnormalities as some chromosomal mutations are more likely to occur with older age. This is especially true for abnormalities such as downs syndrome

•             The health problems of the mother may also predispose the child to being born preterm, with low birth weight or intrauterine death.

 However, there are some benefits to geriatric pregnancy. They include

The children are often more matured and socially adjusted because the mothers are older, generally more established in life and career and more likely to provide for their needs, including education.

Most geriatric pregnancies are planned pregnancies, so the children are often born into conducive home environments.

What to do in case of geriatric pregnancy

Despite the health risks associated with geriatric pregnancy, a lot of such women have a smooth pregnancy with excellent outcomes. If you are above 35 and pregnant, try to book an appointment with your doctor as early as possible. Also begin your prenatal vitamins as soon as possible, preferably before conception. This will help reduce the chances of a birth anomaly to the nervous system due to folate deficiency.

Also note that most times, delivery in geriatric pregnancies is by caesarean section. This is not to say there are no cases of vaginal delivery, however, the thresh hold for caesarean deliveries is much lower to avoid birth complications for both mother and child, and lawsuit.

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