Women who put off getting pregnant till past their mid-thirties are defying nature and risk the heartbreak of infertility, Miscarriage or other complications, doctors warned on Friday.
“Women want to ‘have it all’, but biology is unchanged,” they said in an editorial in the British Medical Journal.
An increasing number of women in Western countries are delaying having a baby till later, many for career reasons.
Once women pass 40 these risks increase dramatically, said consultant obstetrician Susan Bewley, one of the editorial’s authors.
“We are seeing the disease burden of this social trend going up,” she said.
“As the number of older mothers is going up, most are fine, but in our gynaecological and obstetric clinics we are seeing a lot of casualties of this trend,” she told BBC radio.
Bewley and her colleagues warned in their editorial public health authorities were ignoring an “epidemic of pregnancy in middle age.”
“Doctors and healthcare planners need to grasp this threat to public health and support women to achieve biologically optimal childbearing,” they wrote.
“No serious research is being undertaken into the additional costs to the National Health Service, the increased load on maternity services and neonatal units, the extra costs to employers of later maternity leave, or consideration of means that enable women to have children earlier.”
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD