Clinical Outcomes in High-Risk Pregnancies Due to Advanced Maternal Age

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2021 Feb;30(2):160-167. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2020.8860. Epub 2020 Nov 13.


Although the influence of advanced maternal age (AMA) and delayed childbearing on adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes has been studied extensively, no universal consensus on the definition of AMA exists. This terminology currently refers to the later years of a woman's reproductive life span and generally applies to women age ≥35 years. AMA increases the risk of pregnancy complications, including ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, congenital anomalies, placenta previa and abruption, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery. Such complications could be the cause of preterm birth and increase the risk of perinatal mortality. For women who have a chronic illness, pregnancy may lead to additional risk that demands increased monitoring or surveillance. The management of pregnant women of AMA requires understanding the relationship between age and preexisting comorbidities. The outcomes from pregnancy in AMA may have a negative impact on women's health as they age because of both the changes from the pregnancy itself and the increased risk of pregnancy-related complications. Postpartum depression affects women of AMA at higher rates. Links between preeclampsia and the risk of future development of cardiovascular disease require follow-up surveillance. The association between hypertensive pregnancy disorders and cognitive and brain functions needs further investigation of sex-specific risk factors across the life span. Educating providers and women of AMA is crucial to facilitate clinical decision making and such education should consider cultural influences, risk perception, and women's health literacy, as well as providers' biases and system issues.

Keywords: advanced maternal age; adverse maternal outcomes; beliefs and behaviors; health equity; maternal mortality and morbidity; pregnancy outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Premature Birth*