Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Centre, examined complications of pregnancies in women over 50 and determined that it is just as safe to give birth after age 50 as age 40 without endangering the mother or the baby.

The researchers examined the complications of pregnancies among women over the age of 50 and the question of whether women who give birth at these ages are at increased risk for both themselves and the fetus compared with younger mothers.

The team included: Dr. Eyal Sheiner, director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Soroka and vice dean for student affairs at BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS); Dr. Gali Priante and Dr. Erez Halevy of Soroka and the BGU FOHS, and Dr. Tamar Wainstock, of BGU’s School of Public Health in FOHS.

The researchers found that thanks to medical and technological advancements—including extracellular fertilization and egg donation—the age at which a woman can give birth has gradually increased.

“It turns out that 50 is the new 40 when it comes to childbirth,” according to Dr. Sheiner. “There is no doubt that medical teams will need to handle increasing numbers of birth for women over age 50.”

The study included 242,771 deliveries at Soroka, of which 234,824 (96.7 percent) occurred in women younger than 40. The rest occurred in women from age 40 to 50 and older. It focused mainly on whether women found themselves during pregnancy and childbirth with complications such as premature births, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and cesarean sections. The study also examined if the newborn suffered from poor physical condition, mortality or distress during labor.

The researchers concluded that all complications were higher among women over 40 who gave birth to children compared with those who gave birth below that age. Remarkably, there was no escalation of complications in women over the age of 50, compared with women who gave birth between the ages of 40 and 50. Dr. Sheiner still advises to treat the pregnancies of women over the age of 40 as high-risk, and even more so, the pregnancies of women over 50. Special emphasis should be placed on tracking fasting glucose and pregnant blood pressure for early detection of complications.

According to Dr Sheiner, pregnancies of women over the age of 40 should still be considered “high risk”. And that’s even more the case for those over 50. “But it turns out that the risk is not much higher as the woman gets older,” he said.

Hillary Rorison, Midwifery Advisor at the Australian College of Midwives, notes that it’s important women don’t interpret this research as saying that having a baby after 50 is without risk.

“It’s unwise to say no there’s no health consequences,” she says, adding that what the research actually shows is that the risk of complications for women over 50 is the same as complications for mums 40 and over.

“It falls within that same risk category, “Mrs Rorison says, adding that we know there’s an increased risk for women in this group.

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  • An interesting read. I had my last child at 40 and that was my easiest pregnancy and birth!

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  • interesting read

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  • This is great for mum’s at a later age!

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  • Interesting, thank you for this update.

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  • An interesting read. I do know of a few people who have given birth in this mid 40s.

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  • It’s very interesting how they work these things out.

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  • I hadn’t expected this at all, this is really interesting.

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  • I think 50 is a bit to old more for the child only reason when you get older you start getting sick and and things start to go down hill which your child is still only young and should be enjoying life not looking after their parents

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  • Sorry – so far I haven’t met a child who was conceived from 40 onwards who doesn’t have some form of disorder – either autism or Asperger’s syndrome or worse. Nature really meant for reproduction to occur early in life as no one was meant to live as long as they now do. The other awful problem is how do these older mothers play and be part of their young children’s lives?
    I was a young mum – 4 children before I was 26 and 7 years between oldest and youngest. I went horse-riding, sailing, swimming/surfing, bush walking, white water rafting and even abseiling with my children – how do mothers of 60 years of age do this [child conceived at 50 is 10 when they want to do these things]? Does no-one think of what the child wants and needs these days – just what the mother wants? The woman has schooled and gone into a career and broken the glass ceiling maybe, but has missed out on having a family – so has to have it all?!!
    Well guess what – I did it the other way round – had my children enjoyed them and did all they wanted to do with them and then had a really great career ending up as HRO and LRO earning more per year than my dad ever dreamed of earning and with the most wonderful partner anyone could ever have.

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  • It is so unfair on the child/children

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  • Didn’t mention specifically about researching if the child had a developmental delay or disorder. I don’t think I believe this research is entirely showing us the big picture.

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  • My doctor said I was considered an old mum when I had my first at 29. He’d have a conniption fit if I tried again at 50!

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  • Wish I was 50 :) I’m 55 now. Had my kids in my 40ies, my 2 youngest are foster kids under a permanent guardianship order.
    One thing what does come up is if you’re long enough around to see them growing up. The age difference between my youngest (foster) daughter and me is 50 years and she has Down syndrome and will always need help. I have to make sure I’ve made myself unnecessary before I die.

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  • My youngest children were born when I was 51 years old. No it was not planned and certainly was not expecting twins to pop up either. My children are happy and healthy but I do have older children to help look after them too. My children are three different ages, 3 in their 30’s, 1 teen and the 6 year olds. The last three were surprise but lovely ones. It is harder being an older mum as some people think I am their grand parent. My only grand child is 4 so not much age difference.

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  • my last two both tried to kill me, if I tried for another they would probably succeed!

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