All You Older Moms Are Causing The World Massive Birth Defects, Says Study

advanced maternal ageLadies who dared to give birth over the “advanced maternal age” of 35, boy do I have a lovely mid-week treat for you. By delaying parenthood for reasons relating to your career, your education, or simply taking the time to get your life in reasonable order to care for a baby, you’re upping the birth defect rate — in over 14 European countries. Cheers!

The Telegraph reports that upon reviewing 5.4 million births across the EU (between 1984 and 2007), researchers found that the overall congenital birth defect rate rose by 50 percent. In there was also a noted 27 percent increased “risk” for multiple births like twins.

Professor Helen Dolk, from the Centre for Maternal Fetal and Infant Research, University of Ulster, who co-authored the study, said that the uptick in multiple births can be explained both by assisted reproductive technology (ART) and shifts in maternal age. Nevertheless, she still thinks we need “more research” to properly understand how ART is contributing to multiple births and birth defects.

John Thorp, deputy-editor-in-chief of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, where the study is published, says that these changes in maternal health deserve “extra specialized help” by physicians:

“This increase in babies who are both from a multiple pregnancy and affected by a congenital anomaly has implications for pre and post natal service provision. Extra specialised help should be put in place for affected families, recognising than there are now nearly double as many affected families than there were 20 years ago.”

Hey, at least they’re not capping that off with a hearty helping of “hurry up and procreate.” Goodness knows you hear that mantra more times than you have fingers and toes.

(photo: newphotoservice / Shutterstock)

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  • CrazyFor Kate

    You realize they’re not doing this to persecute older moms, right? People should have the right to know the risks they’re taking when they make life decisions, and research like this could help more older moms achieve a healthy child.

    • Koa Beck
    • Katia

      If you agree, why is your tone so snarky/sarcastic? Seems to be a common tone at mommyish when you don’t like what science tells us…

    • MamaB

      Somebody just discovered the Internet.

    • LEB

      People also have the right to be presented with complete information, which means ceasing to gloss over the fact that DAD’S age matters, too. It’s frustrating that the practice of blaming the mother for anything and everything wrong with a pregnancy (from food allergies to birth defects to the baby being the “wrong” gender) is so entrenched that there’s not just a lack of common awareness of the role the father plays, but also a distressing lack of research. What research DOES exist shows that while we keep believing that men can produce boatloads of strong, healthy offspring until the final nail is in the coffin, it’s just not true. A potential dad in his 40s just doesn’t have the same sperm quality as a dad half his age, which can and does result in fertility problems, chromosomal abnormalities, congenital defects, increased risk of miscarriage, etc. For so long the medical community has been obsessed with beating the “your expiration date is nigh!” message into the heads of women, and it’s time we stop overlooking the fact that daddy dearest is the other half of the equation.

    • Paul White

      That isn’t what this study worked on. It’s not horrible for a study to have its focus on ONE variable. And it isn’t like no one knew that dads in their 40s have lower sperm quality. There’s not some conspiracy to keep that secret. It just wasn’t what this study was focused on.

      Reality just is. It doesn’t have biases. Humans ideal reproductive years are about mid 20s to mid 30s. We can and do reproduce far outside that range but that’s generally the best time (biologically) to do so. That applies, as far as I know, to both sexes.

    • upat5

      The best time to have kids is actually 16 to 26. I can’t quote a source, but I have to agree. (I had my kid at 29.)

    • upat5

      Or I should say, the best age biologically, not the best time in one’s life.

    • GC

      Do you have a source that shows advanced paternal age increases the risk for chromosome abnormalities?

    • Pam Tully

      Check out research by geneticist John Crow. Now the scientific world is waking up to the fact that paternal age and sperm quality actually is the MOST important variable when it comes to risks for birth defects. Quote by Dr John Crow-” the greatest mutational health hazard to the human genome is fertile older males”.

      Researchers say this study, published in The Journal of Urology, is the largest of its kind and looked at 3,429 Down syndrome cases reported to the New York State Department of Health from 1983 to 1997. Their findings suggest that the increase in the number of babies with the genetic abnormality born to women over 35 may be the result of a combined effect of both advanced maternal and paternal ages.

  • Eli’s Mom

    I am happy that I don’t contribute to that “Causing The World Massive Birth Defects” statement. I am over 35 AND I have a perfect, healthy baby boy…

    • Paul White

      Anecdotes != data. And the article never claimed that all women over 35 would have children with problems, just that there was a statistically significant correlation between a maternal age of 35+ and birth defects.

  • once upon a time

    I… don’t understand this article. Women who fall pregnant over the age of 35 are more at risk. That’s just the way it works. The human body isn’t a misogynist.

    The study isn’t saying that ‘EVERY SINGLE WOMAN WILL HAVE DEFECTS!!!’ It’s not shaming them. It’s trying to educate them and encourage them to seek specialised help. That’s a good thing. That’s an empowering thing; here’s a way that we can help those women who ‘[delay] parenthood for reasons relating to [their] career, [their] education, or simply [take] the time to get [their] life in reasonable order to care for a baby’.

    Seriously, you do your brand (or women, for that matter) no favours when you act like medical science is out to get women at every turn.

  • Emmali Lucia

    This is for European countries, right?

    And it rose 50% since 1984, right?

    I wonder what could have happened in that amount of time that would cause a huge spike in birth defects… Hmm…. What could it have been? I’m hearing a huge booming noise, and something about a cement sarcophagus that’s been needed to be replaced for the past decade and a half is coming to mind…

    Nahh, it must be just maternal age.That’s why the rate has been so drastic over here in the US! Oh wait…

    • lea

      I’m confused as to why you added the link you did. The article you cited refers to a modest reduction in the number of birth defects within the ART births. Not the overall birth defect rate. Also, Australia uses techniques and best practices to get these reductions, which is something not all other countries do.

      Birth defects in Australia have risen from 2.8% in 1983 to 4% in 2003.

    • Emmali Lucia

      Yeah, I’m confused by that link too. It’s absolutely not the one I was trying to post. The one I was trying to post which Is now hidden somewhere far far away had stats on birth defects per continent. Antarctica was the absolute lowest, North America was at like 2.5% and Europe was like 4.7% of something super close to being twice as much as NoAm. Now time to find that site again.