Advanced maternal age and pregnancy outcomes: a multicountry assessment

BJOG. 2014 Mar:121 Suppl 1:49-56. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12659.


Objective: To assess the association between advanced maternal age (AMA) and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Design: Secondary analysis of the facility-based, cross-sectional data of the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health.

Settings: A total of 359 health facilities in 29 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Sample: A total of 308 149 singleton pregnant women admitted to the participating health facilities.

Methods: We estimated the prevalence of pregnant women with advanced age (35 years or older). We calculated adjusted odds ratios of individual severe maternal and perinatal outcomes in these women, compared with women aged 20-34 years, using a multilevel, multivariate logistic regression model, accounting for clustering effects within countries and health facilities. The confounding factors included facility and individual characteristics, as well as country (classified by maternal mortality ratio level).

Main outcome measures: Severe maternal adverse outcomes, including maternal near miss (MNM), maternal death (MD), and severe maternal outcome (SMO), and perinatal outcomes, including preterm birth (<37 weeks of gestation), stillbirths, early neonatal mortality, perinatal mortality, low birthweight (<2500 g), and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission.

Results: The prevalence of pregnant women with AMA was 12.3% (37 787/308 149). Advanced maternal age significantly increased the risk of maternal adverse outcomes, including MNM, MD, and SMO, as well as the risk of stillbirths and perinatal mortalities.

Conclusions: Advanced maternal age predisposes women to adverse pregnancy outcomes. The findings of this study would facilitate antenatal counselling and management of women in this age category.

Keywords: Advanced maternal age; maternal death; maternal near miss; perinatal outcomes; pregnancy outcomes; severe maternal outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Directive Counseling
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Maternal Age*
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Maternal-Child Health Centers* / organization & administration
  • Maternal-Child Health Centers* / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle East / epidemiology
  • Perinatal Mortality*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*
  • World Health Organization