Health fears raised by increase in mothers-to-be over 50

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There has been a sharp increase in the incidence of older mothers which has led to a question being raised in parliament.

During 2012, 154 babies were born to mothers who were over the age of 50. This is a 33% increase year on year.

The numbers have more than doubled over the last five-year period. This has led to three babies being born to women over the age of 50 each week. During 2000, the figure was at 44, and has increased to 69 births during 2008. This has led to health fears as older females are more like to suffer ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, whilst placing their offspring at risk of genetic defects.

This phenomenon has placed the NHS under more pressure as the older mothers and their babies require higher care levels.

The figures for mothers who are aged 40 and over has also increased. It has risen from 26419 during 2008 to 29994 during 2012, an increase of 13%. This indicates that one baby in 25 is being born to a mother who is 40 or over.

This situation is said to have come about due to mothers placing more emphasis on their careers during their early childbirth years. It may also be attributed to women starting new relationships during later life. The changes in medical advice and the availability of IVF treatment have also prompted women to consider the risks and delay giving birth.

According to medical professionals, women aged 35 or older who have a baby are considered as ‘older mothers.’

Women over the age of 35 are responsible for around 20% of births, which is the highest proportion since the implementation of records during 1938. During 2012, only 23% of births were to females who were under the age of 25. This figure has decreased by almost 50% compared to the early 1970s.

In some parts of Britain, such as Brighton, East Renfrewshire and Windsor, about one in three mothers is over the age of 35.

The Director for Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, Louise Silverton, has warned that these changing patterns of women delaying pregnancy could see a struggle in the health services, unless more midwives become available. To overcome this problem, a Department of Health Spokesperson, has stated that an investment has been made in more than 1500 midwives since 2010 and another 5000 are currently in training.

This will make it possible for every mother to have a named midwife who will be responsible for her care.

Image credit: Alan Turkus

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