Israeli study: Pregnancy over 50 not a greater risk than during 40s

BGU researchers cite technological developments in recent decades for women’s ability to give birth at more advanced stage: ‘It seems that 50 is the new 40’

Illustrative image of a pregnant woman (Wavebreakmedia; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of a pregnant woman (Wavebreakmedia; iStock by Getty Images)

Women over the age of 50 do not face higher risks from childbirth than those in their 40s, according to a recent Israeli study.

The study, conducted by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical Center, found that technological developments in recent decades allow women to give birth at a more advanced age without endangering themselves or their babies.

“It seems that 50 is the new 40,” Professor Eyal Sheiner of Ben-Gurion University said last month when presenting the study at a conference in Las Vegas.

For the study, the research team looked at 68 women over the age of 50 who recently gave birth — half of them through fertilization and the other half naturally. Their pregnancies were then compared with those of 558 women between 45 and 50, 7,321 between 40 and 44, and 240,000 below 40.

Illustrative: Newborn babies in a Jerusalem hospital. (Flash90)

While researchers found women over 40 who faced a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications to themselves and their babies when compared to their younger counterparts, the potential of these risks did not increase for women over 50.

Among the complication risks the researchers observed were gestational diabetes, premature births and Cesarean sections, as well as poor physical condition and even death for newborn babies.

Sheiner stressed that pregnancies for women above 40 should still be considered high risk. However, he said: “There is no doubt that medical teams are going to see more and more births for women over the age of 50.”

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