Pregnant at 40: What are the Risks?

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It is said that one in six babies born having a child later in life will have gestational hypertension, and the probability of the baby developing chromosomal abnormalities increases. Such a having a child later in life applies to women who have given birth for the first time at the age of 35 or older, or to women who have given birth for the second time or older but are 40 or older.

In this article, we will explain the risks of having a child later in life, tests, and what to watch out for.

Are you worried about the risk to have a child later in life?

These days, many women want to work more and be active in society even after marriage. Because of this, the average age to have a baby is getting late in their lives.

However, if you have a baby later in life, you may wonder what the risks are and what will happen to you and your baby. It’s better to know them before you have a baby later on.

Risks and causes of having a child later in life

In the case of having a baby later in life, you will become more prone to problems such as infertility and miscarriage while your baby will possibly have congenital disorders such as Down’s syndrome and autism. This is because, after the age of 35, the function of the ovaries declines, making it harder to produce healthy eggs. This makes it difficult to get pregnant, and even if you do get fertilized, it is easy for abnormalities such as a low number of chromosomes to occur.

If a baby has a chromosomal abnormality, the fertilized egg may not be able to implant or grow well in the womb, or in the worst case, there is a risk of miscarriage. The odds of having a miscarriage are about 10 percent by age 30, but by age 35, it rises to about 2.5 percent, and by age 40, it rises to about 40 percent.

In addition, if there is a chromosomal abnormality, there is a possibility of congenital disease even if the child is born healthy.

Down’s Syndrome is a famous congenital disease that slows down the development of babies. The probability of developing Down’s syndrome is about twice as high at age 35 as it was at age 30, and by age 40, one in 80 babies will have Down’s syndrome.

Understand the risks of having a baby late in life and get tested

Unfortunately, prevention is difficult because chromosomal abnormalities are more likely to occur in proportion to the age of the couple. However, you can get tested and find out if you have a chromosomal abnormality beforehand. This test is called a “prenatal diagnosis” and includes the following tests.

Blood Test (maternal serum marker test, NIPT)

Blood from the mother is collected and tested for abnormalities by analyzing hormones in the maternal serum marker test and DNA in the NIPT test. The maternal serum marker test costs about 10,000 to 20,000 yen and the NIPT test costs about 200,000 yen.

Villus Examination

A test in which villi, which are part of the placenta, are taken from the abdomen or cervix to examine the structure and number of chromosomes in the cells. The cost is about 100,000 to 200,000 yen.

Amniotic Fluid Test

Amniotic fluid will be taken and the structure and number of chromosomes will be examined in the same way as a chorionic test. The cost is about 100,000 to 200,000 yen.

Because the villus test and the amniotic fluid test are definitive tests, if there is an abnormality, it is said that there is almost 100% certainty. This may be done only when there is a suspicion of an abnormality in a blood test, as it may put a strain on both mother and child.

But I’m worried about the money, especially we are having financial difficulties during these pandemic times. What do we need to do?

Some people may be worried about money, but some municipalities may be able to subsidize it. The amount of money and other details vary from region to region, so it is recommended that you check with the hospital.

The above tests are the same as those for normal pregnant women who have older birth, and the doctor will give you instructions such as, “You should take this test.” Since there are some tests that should be done seasonally, such as rubella, and the results of tests such as echoes, it is better to take them as directed as possible.


The number of people experiencing having a baby late in life is actually about four times what it was 30 years ago; in 2013, about 30% of people were giving birth at age 35 or older. The hospital side also feels that the number of people receiving the tests is increasing.

In fact, there are a number of unavoidable problems that can happen to both mother and child during having a baby late in life. If you are going to have it, please understand the risks and cooperate with your doctor.

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