There has been much discussion within medicine as to the health risks faced by women who give birth after the age of 35. Birth defects and difficulty getting pregnant has served as the reasons for this popular discussion amongst physicians. I’ve even been told that the older you are, the older your eggs are and that this makes your eggs less viable. For women of a certain age who get pregnant, there may be an increase in check-ups to make sure that things are running smoothly, this will include multiple ultrasounds, and their doctor may request to use a portable ultrasound, from companies such as Butterfly Network, for home use so that there is a constant update on the baby’s development process.
In an article entitled, “Myth: Pregnant Mothers Over 35 Have Higher Risk of Giving Birth to Down Syndrome Babies” (Health Myth Exposed, 2008), it states that Down Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder and that most children born with Down Syndrome are born of women under the age of 30. It goes on to say that women who desire to have children after 35 should eat healthy and add folic acid to their diet long before they become pregnant. The lack of folic acid in pregnant women has recently been linked to Down Syndrome, NOT OUR AGE.
I am a 40 year old mother of six. Yes, six, two of which were born after I turned 35 and one just a month prior to my 35th birthday.
When I began my prenatal checkups, I received the typical lecture about the risks and I was offered the diagnostic testing for this defect or that defect. I refused to have any amniocentesis’ along with many other tests. I took the attitude of that my lifestyle is clean; I don’t drink, smoke, and I eat properly (most of the time –smile).
I figured that giving birth is the oldest profession in the world. Long before there were “doctors”, children have been born happy and healthy. God blessed me with these pregnancies and I wasn’t going to allow anyone to make me feel bad or worry unduly over my pregnancies.
My son, who was the child born one month before I turned 35, was born with a type of dwarfism called Achondroplasia. This is considered a birth defect by the medical world, however, I take issue with this based on my age as well as I connect the dots with research on Achondroplasia.
Now, this had nothing to do with my age, nor the age of my husband. He was 33 years old and according to medical studies on Achondroplasia, it appears with the upward age of the father. Medical research has also concluded that the mutated gene, which causes it is predominantly found within families where the gene is already present. Yet 80 percent of all who have it are the first in their family with it. I site the information to show and prove that while the medical field is an invaluable tool, it also has flaws based on missing facts and bottom line political agendas.
If I were born in the 30’s or 40’s, my child would have been locked away from the world and labeled a social embarrassment. There comes a time when we must take charge of our lies and realize that we live in our own bodies and know them better than any doctor. I am blessed to report that my son shows no health issues usually associated with his condition. He is an intelligent and action five year old.
WebMD News ran an article on July 16, 2004 entitled, “Giving Birth After 35 Cuts Cancer Risks”. The writer, Daniel Denoon, deals with the risk of ovarian cancer and how women who give birth to at least one child after 35 cut their risk of developing ovarian cancer down by half. He goes on to note that each additional birth after this time cuts the risk by ten percent.
The two children born to me after 35 are healthy and are not suffering from any residual effects of being born to a so-called older mother. I breastfed all six of my children and had an ample supply of milk from the eldest child to the youngest. My youngest was born 13 days after I turned 40 and she was eight pounds and three ounces.
Whether as women we intentionally plan to birth children after 35 or it is a surprise event, I believe that it should be treated as though it is a blessing from God, because it is. We should make it a practice to exercise, get proper rest, eat healthy, and above all maintain a proper relationship with God.
May Allah (God) bless you with the light of understanding as these words were giving in love!
Sister DiLarus Muhammad
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