A Chief Consultant and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the EKO Hospital, Lagos, Dr Gbite Ogunmokun, has said that women who get pregnant at 35 years or above risk having complications with the foetus, baby or themselves.
Ogunmokun, in an interview with our correspondent, noted that the best age for childbearing is between 20 and 35 years, as the risks are minimal during the age bracket. He said women who had advanced in age, upon getting pregnant, had a higher risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.
He said, “The doctor that would take care of a pregnant woman who is above 35 years must be on his or her toes because with increasing maternal age the risk of spontaneous abortion is high. The woman might start bleeding early in pregnancy which may result in her losing the pregnancy. The fact is that this type of abortion is often due to genetic problems, as nature has a way of pushing the pregnancy down in early pregnancy.
“Pregnant women over 35 years of age should go for screening early so that if the foetus is compromised genetically, they would be advised to terminate or continue with the pregnancy if she so decides.”
He stressed that the high prevalence of medical problems in pregnancies., like hypertension and diabetes, were common as women advanced in age.
The Obstetrician said there was a tendency for complications to arise with women with diabetes and pre-existing hypertension that may also put the baby at risk.
“Women who are above 35 years should be screened for gestational diabetes when they get pregnant because the disease is common with women of their age and it could also compromise the pregnancy. It could lead to stillbirth. So, if a woman above 35 years is pregnant and she is confirmed to have hypertension or diabetes, she needs a specialist to manage her during pregnancy,” Ogunmokun said.
He, therefore, advised women who are advanced in age by the time they get pregnant to register early for antenatal in a good hospital. “They should not register in the health centre or maternity home, they must be managed by an obstetrician. We must manage their baseline and do the routine tests for them. They must also be screened for infections,” he said.