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Advanced Maternal Age May Lower Anatomical Abnormalities

Update Date: Feb 03, 2014 03:33 PM EST

Women who give birth later in life are less likely to have children with anatomical abnormalities, according to a new study.

Researchers noted that women ages 35 and older are at a decreased risk of giving birth to a child with a major congenital malformation, after excluding chromosomal abnormalities.

Previous studies revealed that advanced maternal age, which is defined as 35 and older, is a risk factor for having children with chromosomal abnormalities. However, very little research has been done on association between advanced maternal age and the risk for having a child with a major congenital malformation, which are physical defects present at birth.

The latest study involved ultrasound information collected from ver 76,000 women at the time they presented for their routine second trimester ultrasound at Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.).

After comparing the rate of having one or more major congenital malformations diagnosed at the time of ultrasound in women who were younger than 35 versus those women 35 years and older, researchers found that advanced maternal age was associated with a 40 percent decreased risk of having a child with one or more major congenital malformations, after controlling for other risk factors.

"As more women are choosing to delay childbearing, they are faced with many increased pregnancy risks," researcher Katherine R. Goetzinger M.D., M.S.C.I., said in a news release. "Findings from this study may provide some reassurance for these women regarding the likelihood of having an anatomically normal child."

The findings were presented on Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. CST, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy MeetingTM, in New Orleans.

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