[Pregnancy in women aged 43 years or older: maternal and perinatal risks]

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 2012 Sep;41(5):468-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jgyn.2012.04.013. Epub 2012 May 22.
[Article in French]


Objectives: The proportion of women with advanced age at the time of delivery increases constantly, partly due to assisted reproductive technologies. Maternal morbidity is known to increase with maternal age, whereas data on perinatal outcomes are controversial. Risks of maternal and perinatal complications may be elevated among older pregnant women. The purpose of this study is to quantify these risks among 43 years or older women in comparison with women aged 25 to 35 years, the age known to be optimal for a pregnancy.

Patients and methods: A retrospective study was conducted during three years (2008-2010) in a level 3 maternity unit, comparing maternal and perinatal outcomes between women who were at least 43 years old and a control group composed of drawn lots mothers between 25 and 35 years of age at the time of delivery. Maternal and perinatal outcomes were studied using uni- and multivariate analysis. As in vitro fertilization (IVF) and twin pregnancy are associated with maternal age and several complications, we compared 43 years or older women with a control group using three categories: "43 years or older without IVF", "43 years or older with IVF and singleton" and "43 years or older with IVF and twin".

Results: Three hundred and sixty one women aged at least 43 years at the time of delivery (mean age: 44.6 years) were compared with 361 women aged 25 to 35 years (mean age: 31.0 years). Cesarean and preterm delivery rates were significantly higher in the study group (43.5% vs. 21.7% and 18.4% vs. 6.5% respectively, p<0.05), with higher risks after adjustment (adjusted OR=2.3 [1.6-3.4] and 2.4 [1.3-4.3], respectively). Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia rates were significantly higher among the 43 years or older women compared with the control group (11.1% vs 3.6% and 8.3% vs. 3.1% respectively, P<0.05) but this difference was not significant in multivariate analysis. The rate of preterm delivery was four fold higher among the 43 years or older women with IVF and twin in comparison with those who have a spontaneous pregnancy (52.3% vs. 13.0%, P<0.001). Cesarean delivery rate was also significantly increased in this subgroup.

Conclusion: Most women having a spontaneous singleton pregnancy at 43 years or older have an uneventful pregnancy outcome. However, in comparison with the women aged 25 to 35 years, they have significantly higher risks of cesarean and preterm delivery. These risks significantly increase with IVF and twin pregnancy among older women. Women aged 43 years or older should be informed about these risks to make an enlightened decision, particularly when IVF is needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pregnancy-Induced / epidemiology
  • Maternal Age*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy, Twin
  • Premature Birth
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors