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Blackberry's avatar

How serious is the danger of having kids after 30? How about 35? 40?

Asked by Blackberry (31878points) October 22nd, 2010

I keep hearing this biological clock argument. I am aware it is real, but how significant are the dangers? Is it overhyped or underhyped? Excuse my ignorance, maybe you have some good studies I can read that confirm the details of this matter. Thank you.

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11 Answers

YoBob's avatar

Well, my wife had our first when she was 37 and our second when she was 40. Both are quite healthy and happy.

Yes, there is a slight increase in the risk of problems when the mother is over 30. OTOH, there is an increased risk of being in an automobile accident if you drive on a wet road. Should you avoid ever getting in a vehicle if more than 2 drops of water fall from the sky?

If you are in generally good health the increase in risk is pretty small.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It totally depends on the genetics of the people involved. Some women might safely be able to have kids until their late 40s, and the eggs will be fine, the kids will be normal. Halle Berry had her child naturally at 42, but then again, she had the baby with a young man, which usually makes a difference.

Sometimes it makes no difference. John Cleese’s parents were both in their 40s when they had him, and he was a surprise. David Letterman was ~60 and his now-wife in her mid-40s when they had their healthy child, and he was a surprise as well. Some women’s reproductive systems peter out early. Some women’s eggs go bad “early”, as does some men’s sperm, making for miscarriages, fetal abnormalities and other problems.

In other words, it’s a crap shoot, but the odds favour some complications past 35 and definitely past 40 for most women.

Seaofclouds's avatar

After 35, there is a higher risk of complications during pregnancy and genetic defects. Due to the advances in medicine, most of the risks during the pregnancy can be taken care of. Some genetic defects can be corrected, but others can not. As a women gets older (past 35), those risks continue to increase. The risk for genetic defect is increased because of the quality of the woman’s egg (I believe it’s because they can degenerate over time).

That’s not to say women over 35 can’t have healthy babies. They do it every day. Women in their 40s give birth quite often these days because of the number of women that want to get a career established before having children.

Age also doesn’t guarantee a healthy pregnancy. I had my son when I was 20 and had to be induced because of preeclampsia. I’m 29 this time around and will have my little one shortly before turning 30. So far everything is looking good. We’ll see what happens down the road. We are planning to have more after this little one as long as things go well for me with the pregnancy.

CMaz's avatar

“How serious is the danger…”

I see a greater danger in divorce being the culprit. Having to raise a child into Octogenarianisem.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I would think it depends upon whether you are referring to biological or experience/lifestyle.

GeorgeGee's avatar

If your unborn child is determined to have downs syndrome, would you have the child, or abort it? Questions like this are important, as the risk of Downs is 35 times higher for a mother at age 44 than a mother aged 20–24.

anartist's avatar

It’s getting better all the time. Fairly easily into late 30s, more difficult in 40s. You’re a guy so you have no worries, unless you are getting pressure for commitment, marriage, and children before you are ready.
The full PubMed article may cost a little money

diavolobella's avatar

Generally, age 35 is when the risk of complications based on the mother’s age begins, not 30. I had my children at age 29 and 31 respectively and was not considered at any risk due to my age. Also, having children at a very young age (early to mid-teens) can present as many risks, just different ones. I’m the youngest of 7 children and my mother had me at age 43. I was a surprise, because she didn’t think she could have more children. However, she did not practice birth control because of her religious beliefs and so there you are.

Whether I turned out okay is debatable (har har), but I have no health problems and the pregnancy and birth were unremarkable. That said, she delivered a stillborn child (that died in the 9th month of pregnancy) before she had me. I have no idea if that was due to her age. I read once that women who had large numbers had a risk of stillbirth that was 1 in 8, so if that was correct, she fell in that category regardless of her age.

YARNLADY's avatar

I was considered an elderly, at risk mother at age 36, but that was 30 years ago. I believe with proper monitoring of diet and exercise it is much safer now.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I don’t know anyone who has had complications, be it in the physical or mental development of their child. Both my sister and SIL bore a child in their early 40s, and both children graduated this year from reputable universities.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

My grandmother had most of her children at a pretty late age; I’m pretty sure she was in her 30s when my mother was born and had her youngest in her 40s. She had four children: two, my mother and aunt, turned out to be perfectly healthy and normal (my mom is actually one of the most amazing, intelligent people I know); however, who two sons ended up with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy. Of course, that was in the 40s and 50s, and I don’t know how much of that was due to not as great health care or just pure bad luck. However, as far as I know it is proven that after age 35 or 40 you are more at risk of having a child with Down syndrome. Still, as many of these comments attest, most mothers who give birth later in life have perfectly normal children. I’m one of them; my mom was 40 years old when I was born and I’m about as normal as anyone else.

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