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      Very advanced maternal age and morbidity in Victoria, Australia: a population based study

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          In Australia, approximately 0.1% of births occur to women 45 years or older and this rate has been increasing in recent years. There are however, few population based studies examining perinatal outcomes among this age group. The aim of this study was to determine the maternal and perinatal outcomes of pregnancies in women aged 45 years or older compared to women aged 30–34 years.


          Data on births at 20 or more weeks’ gestation were obtained from the Victorian Perinatal Data Collection for the years 2005 and 2006. We examined selected maternal and perinatal outcomes for women of very advanced maternal age (VAMA) aged 45 years or older (n = 217) and compared them to women aged 30–34 years (n = 48,909). Data were summarised using numbers and percentages. Categorical data were analysed by Chi-square tests and Fisher’s exact test. Comparisons are presented using unadjusted odds ratios, 95 percent confidence intervals (CIs) and p-values.


          Women aged 45 years and older had higher odds of gestational diabetes (OR 2.05; 95% CI 1.3–3.3); antepartum haemorrhage (OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.01–3.5), and placenta praevia (OR 4.88; 95% CI 2.4–9.5). The older age-group also had higher odds of preterm birth between 32–36 weeks (OR 2.61; 95% CI 1.8–3.8); low birth-weight (<2,500 gr) (OR 2.22; 95% CI 1.5–3.3) and small for gestational age (OR 1.53; 95% CI 1.0–2.3). Stratified analysis revealed that VAMA was most strongly associated with caesarean section in primiparous women (OR 8.24; 95% CI 4.5, 15.4) and those using ART (OR 5.75; 95% CI 2.5, 13.3), but the relationship persisted regardless of parity, ART use and plurality. Low birthweight was associated with VAMA only in first births (OR 3.90; 95% CI 2.3, 6.6), while preterm birth was more common in older women for both first (OR 3.13; 95% CI 1.8, 5.3) and subsequent (OR 2.08; 95% CI 1.2, 3.5) births, and for those having singleton births (OR 2.11; 95% CI 1.3, 3.4), and those who did not use ART (OR 2.10; 95% CI 1.3, 3.4). Preterm birth was very common in multiple births and following ART use, regardless of maternal age.


          This study demonstrates that women aged 45 years and older, in Victoria, Australia, have higher rates of pregnancy and perinatal complications, compared to women aged 30–34 years.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Epidemiology of pre-eclampsia and the other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

          Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy include chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia and chronic hypertension with superimposed pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia complicates about 3% of pregnancies, and all hypertensive disorders affect about five to 10% of pregnancies. Secular increases in chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia have occurred as a result of changes in maternal characteristics (such as maternal age and pre-pregnancy weight), whereas declines in eclampsia have followed widespread antenatal care and use of prophylactic treatments (such as magnesium sulphate). Determinants of pre-eclampsia rates include a bewildering array of risk and protective factors, including familial factors, sperm exposure, maternal smoking, pre-existing medical conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and anti-phospholipid syndrome), and miscellaneous ones such as plurality, older maternal age and obesity. Hypertensive disorders are associated with higher rates of maternal, fetal and infant mortality, and severe morbidity, especially in cases of severe pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets syndrome. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Advanced maternal age and adverse perinatal outcome.

            The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of maternal age on perinatal and obstetric outcome in women aged 40-44 years and those 45 years or older and to estimate whether adverse outcome was related to intercurrent illness and pregnancy complications. National prospective, population-based, cohort study in women aged 40-44 years and those 45 years or older and in a control group of women aged 20-29 years who delivered during the period 1987-2001. Adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated after adjustments for significant malformations, maternal pre-existing diseases, and smoking. Main outcome measures were perinatal mortality, intrauterine fetal death, neonatal death, preterm birth, and preeclampsia. During the 15-year period, there were 1,566,313 deliveries (876,361 women were 20-29 years of age, 31,662 were 40-44 years, and 1,205 were > or = 45 years). Perinatal mortality was 1.4%, 1.0%, and 0.5% in women 45 years or older, 40-44, and 20-29 years, respectively. Adjusted OR for perinatal mortality was 2.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.5-4.0) in women aged 45 years or older, compared with 1.7 (95% CI 1.5-1.9) in women 40-44 years. Adjusted OR for intrauterine fetal death was 3.8 (95% CI 2.2-6.4) in women aged 45 years or older, compared with 2.1 (95% CI 1.8-2.4) in women 40-44 years. Preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia were more common among women 40-44 years of age and those 45 years or older. Perinatal mortality was increased in women with intercurrent illness or pregnancy complications compared with women without these conditions, but there was no evidence that these factors became more important with increasing age. Perinatal mortality, intrauterine fetal death, and neonatal death increased with age. There was also an increase in intercurrent illnesses and pregnancy complications with increasing age, but this did not entirely explain the observed increase in perinatal mortality with age. II-3
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              The perinatal effects of delayed childbearing.

              To determine if the rates of pregnancy complications, preterm birth, small for gestational age, perinatal mortality, and serious neonatal morbidity are higher among mothers aged 35-39 years or 40 years or older, compared with mothers 20-24 years. We performed a population-based study of all women in Nova Scotia, Canada, who delivered a singleton fetus between 1988 and 2002 (N = 157,445). Family income of women who delivered between 1988 and 1995 was obtained through a confidential linkage with tax records (n = 76,300). The primary outcome was perinatal death (excluding congenital anomalies) or serious neonatal morbidity. Analysis was based on logistic models. Older women were more likely to be married, affluent, weigh 70 kg or more, attend prenatal classes, and have a bad obstetric history but less likely to be nulliparous and to smoke. They were more likely to have hypertension, diabetes mellitus, placental abruption, or placenta previa. Preterm birth and small-for-gestational age rates were also higher; compared with women aged 20-24 years, adjusted rate ratios for preterm birth among women aged 35-39 years and 40 years or older were 1.61 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.42-1.82; P < .001) and 1.80 (95% CI 1.37-2.36; P < .001), respectively. Adjusted rate ratios for perinatal mortality/morbidity were 1.46 (95% CI 1.11-1.92; P = .007) among women 35-39 years and 1.95 (95% CI 1.13-3.35; P = .02) among women 40 years or older. Perinatal mortality rates were low at all ages, especially in recent years. Older maternal age is associated with relatively higher risks of perinatal mortality/morbidity, although the absolute rate of such outcomes is low.

                Author and article information

                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
                BioMed Central
                27 March 2013
                : 13
                : 80
                [1 ]School of Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria University, St Alban’s Campus, PO Box 14228, Melbourne 8001, Australia
                [2 ]Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity, Clinical Councils Unit, Department of Health, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
                [3 ]Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
                [4 ]School of Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Clayton Campus, Wellington Road, Clayton 3800, Australia
                Copyright © 2013 Carolan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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