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HEALTH DIVA: Hollywood’s 40-Something Pregnancy Craze — Can You Do It Too?

By   |   August 12, 2013   |   Entertainment, Fitness

Thinking about having kids later in life? Resident Health Diva, Dr. Janna Andrews, examines some of the mysteries behind a later-in-life birth.

The stunning Halle Berry shocked everyone when she announced she has having her second child at 46 with her now husband Olivier Martinez. Berry, in spite of the fact that she has Type 1 Diabetes, which can cause complications in pregnancy and delivery, an added challenge on top of age factors, claims the pregnancy was unexpected.

The news that women are having babies later in life shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The age of first time mothers has risen globally over the years.

Advanced maternal age has been defined as 35 or older at time of childbirth. A womanΓÇÖs fertility peaks in her twenties. By the time a woman is 40 years old, the chances of conceiving in a year decreases to 44 percent.

So why are women delaying? There has been a correlation between increased educational levels and postponed childbearing. After obtaining a higher level of education that leads to a higher paying job, more women are more invested in developing their careers, and they are waiting longer to marry and start families.

Economic uncertainty has also played a part in women pushing back their decisions to have children. New York City is the perfect storm of highly educated, ambitious professionals in one of the most expensive cosmopolitan areas in the country.

So now more women in their forties are having a multiple birth. And it’s not uncommon to hear of a seasoned Hollywood starlet having twins.

Studies have shown that as women age that they have increased levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and sometimes release multiple eggs per cycle increasing the occurrence of fraternal twins. But the rate of twins raises suspicion.

The boom in multiples and identical twins more often occurs thanks to great advances in egg donation and in vitro fertilization, known as ART (assisted reproductive technology).

In IVF, the egg and sperm are combined in a lab and then the embryo is implanted in the uterus. Egg donation involves harvesting eggs from a donorΓÇÖs ovaries, fertilizing the egg and sperm in the laboratory, and then using IVF to impregnate the Mother. Multiple childbirths can occur if too many embryos are transferred, as was the case with the “Octo-mom” Nadya Suleman.

While these costly interventions are accessible to help women in their late thirties and forties conceive, the privacy or lack of transparency surrounding that decision has misled many women into thinking that they too can delay pregnancy without consequence.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The Facts of Life alum Kim Fields, who is expecting her second child at 44, acknowledged that she and her husband tried to get pregnant for almost two years before conceiving.

ART has helped many couples realize their dream of becoming parents. But all the pros and cons of having kids later in life should be explored before baby plans are put on indefinite hold.

Filed Under: Entertainment, Fitness

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