Late pregnancies becoming more frequent

Publié le : 5 April 2013

 In its "Parents & Children" supplement, the daily La Croix examines late pregnancies, which have become increasing more frequent since the 1980s. The reason is as follows: "increasingly more women, notably in the upper middle classes, deliberately delay the arrival of the first child." While this decision is a deliberate choice, it "is nonetheless the result of very strong social pressure," according to the analysis of the child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Myriam Szejer. It is "after enjoying life without a child and advancing in their career [that] some women feel that they are at last ready to become a mother and commit to a parental ‘project’." Marc Bassin, author of a study on late parenthood, explains that "since the coming of contraception, the child is in fact regarded as a ‘project’ by couples."

But a late pregnancy, after 40, "is sometimes also the fruit of a long drawn-out effort by couples confronted with the problem of infertility." The journalist points out that "while the progress of medicine gives hope to some couples, it also gives illusions to those who count too soon on the capacity of science to make their dream come true." Because "doctors cannot do everything. After reaching 35-36 years of age, the curve of female fertility drops inexorably, reminds Professor François Olivennes." Marie-Claude Benattar, a gynaecologist specialising in infertility, says that the images of "celebrities exposing their round belly on the front page of magazines, and giving the impression that maternity is an adventure possible at any age" are "misleading" and "nourish illusions." These women "do not say they became pregnant thanks to a donation of oocytes, which means that the child is not genetically theirs. From the age of 41-42, the chances of becoming pregnant spontaneously are divided by four. And medically assisted procreation (MAP) also has its limits: after 43, the success rate drops to 1 or 2%." And the journalist points out that in France, "MAP – the donation of oocytes or in vitro fertilization – is no longer covered by the social security system after the 43rd birthday, and there is a professional consensus among doctors not to practise it beyond this age. Thus, Marie-Claude Benattar warns "those who want to wait and reminds them of the need to be better informed about the decline of fertility with age.
Lastly, the journalist draws attention to the risks of late maternity for the mother and the child. Joëlle Belaisch-Allart, head of the Obstetric Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine department of Sèvres hospital, explains that "between the age of 40 and 44, about 80% of women can hope for a normal pregnancy and a favourable outcome […]. However, this means that 20% will involve a risk. Either of a miscarriage and chromosomal disorder owing to the age of the oocyte. Or of complications linked to the woman’s ageing body, with an increase in hypertension, diabetes and prematurity.

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