Tuesday, July 10, 2007

40 is the new 35 when it comes high-risk pregnancy

It's one of the most serious decisions a pregnant woman makes: whether to have amniocentesis during her pregnancy to look for birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome.

The procedure, in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is extracted from the womb using a needle, carries with it a risk of miscarriage. Because the probability of abnormalities increases as women age, it has long been common practice for women older than 35 to undergo amniocentesis.

But a group of Canadian doctors and geneticists is challenging that approach. In an opinion paper published today in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends that maternal age should only factor into a decision about amniocentesis when a woman is over 40.

In other words, 40 is the new 35 when it comes to being labelled a high-risk pregnancy.

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