updated 11 Mar 2014, 00:16
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Sun, Oct 27, 2013
The New Paper
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Pregnancy carries increased risks for older women
by Chai Hung Yin

In Singapore, it is rare for women aged 50 and above to have a baby.

Three obstetricians and gynaecologists The New Paper spoke to said they have not dealt with any cases.

The oldest mothers they have seen were between the ages of 45 and 48.

Women at 50 and above are less fertile, said Dr Lubna Harharah, an obstetrician and gynaecologist with The Obstetrics & Gynaecology Centre, a Singapore Medical Group clinic at Parkway East Hospital.

This makes it hard for them to become pregnant, she said.

Some women overcome this hurdle by going for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), but the age limit here is 45.

Said Dr Lee Keen Whye, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre: "At 50 years old, the risk of miscarriage is higher, with one in five women suffering it.

"The woman is also likely to develop medical problems like diabetes and high blood pressure."

With a higher risk, these mothers will need more invasive diagnostic tests, said obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, Dr Choo Wan Ling.

Besides that, there are also risks for the baby, such as being born with Down syndrome and birth defects.

Dr Choo, a member of Surgeons International Holdings, a group of surgeons with different specialities, said: "There can be issues of baby's growth restriction and the separation of the placenta may necessitate a premature delivery.

"The chances of a successful vaginal birth will also be lower."

Moreover, there are concerns of whether these mothers can cope with bringing up a young child.

Dr Choo said: "The mother has to factor in that she will be more tired as it is challenging to keep up with a growing child."

On whether the problem of diabetes and high blood pressure can be solved by giving birth, Dr Lee said: "It depends on whether they are long-standing or gestational. In this case (Liu Ling Ling), the doctor must have controlled both conditions before starting the IVF programme.

"Otherwise, the IVF programme would have failed and miscarriage or premature labour would be higher."

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