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Doctors warn of risks faced by Spain's one in five first-time mums over 40
20 June 2016 @ 13:25

SPANISH medics have warned of the risks to women over 40 who decide to have children, especially where this will be their first – and report that one in five first-time mums in Spain are at least 40 years old.

The financial crisis, unemployment or job insecurity, low wages and difficulties in getting mortgages without a huge deposit have all meant that in the last 10 years or so, the average age of a first-time mother in Spain has been rising sharply – in fact, first-time mums in Spain are among the oldest in Europe.

Back in 2004, the average woman had her first child at age 31, but now, more than half are aged at least 35 and 20% are over 40.

Recently, a well-known celebrity in Spain announced she was pregnant for the first time at the age of 47.

Doctors at the private Sanitas hospital in the La Zarzuela area of Madrid say that among the general population, the risk of conceiving a foetus with chromosome alterations – the most common being Down's Syndrome – is 1%, but this rises to 6% for mothers over 40.

Older mothers are generally very aware of this and foetal disorders are among their biggest fears, says head of the research, Dr Gloria Estaca.

In women of this age, blood and amniotic fluid samples are taken and tested regularly in mothers past their early 30s, and many request these tests 'out of anxiety', Dr Estaca reveals.

'Structural' deformities in the foetus in mothers over 40 are also more common, with their risk rising from 2.5% among younger mums to 3.7% among older ones, according to the Spanish Menopausal Research Association (AEEM) at its National Conference.

Up to a third of pregnancies in mothers aged 40-plus are considered 'high-risk', and 10% of these showed chromosome alterations.

Dr Estaca says a decision to become pregnant after 'a certain age' should be thought through very thoroughly, and full information about possible risks and complications should be studied first.


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