I don't have a problem with it in terms of increased risk of _________ or whatever. Every pregnancy has an inherent risk for some type of genetic defect, no matter what age.
The only "problem" I would possibly have with people having kids older in life is that when their children are in their teenage years the parents may not be able to keep up with them either mentally or physically. I had a friend in high school whose parents had him when they were in their 50s. It wasn't a planned pregnancy. They already had two kids, who were in their 30s by the time he was a teenager. I remember meeting them and they seemed more like grandparents than parents when we were in high school. They were perfectly nice and all that, and wonderful people, but I always got the impression that they really struggled to deal with raising a teenager when they were in their 70s, perhaps significantly more so than a parent in their 40s or 50s.
Obviously it is always up to the parents at what age they decide to start a family, but as with raising any child there's always the collateral issues to think about that have way more to do with a barely higher rate of genetic defects. I guess it comes down to a list of pros and cons and seeing which side wins out.
While you are correct that every pregnancy has a risk of genetic defects, you are completely wrong about a "barely higher rate" in terms of maternal age.
By the time a woman hits 35, the chances of possible genetic defects goes up considerably. After that the numbers start to increase rapidly and not just for Down syndrome. And I believe that once a woman hits 45, the chances of Down syndrome increases to more than a 50% possibility.
It's definitely something to consider if a woman is wanting to become pregnant at a later age. It shouldn't discourage anyone though.
By the time a woman hits 35, the chances of possible genetic defects goes up considerably. After that the numbers start to increase rapidly and not just for Downs syndrome. And I believe that once a woman hits 45, the chances of Down syndrome increases to more than a 50% possibility.
This is incorrect - at the age of 35 the chance of Downs is not agreed, of course, but seems to be about 1 in 350-90 in the papers I have looked at. At 45, it seems to be about 1 in 30. Considerably higher, of course, but not 50-50.
I'm simply stating what I've read as well as what my perinatologist went over with us. There is higher risk as the mother's age increases, though there are a lot of factors that have to be looked at as well.
The numbers may vary from study to study and year to year, but I'm not going to sit and say that my Drs are wrong.
As has been stated repeatedly in this thread, plenty of us know of women who have had perfectly healthy babies past what would be considered the "standard" age of motherhood.
As many have said, it should be whether or not the parent(s) of the child are able and willing to deal the potential health and/mental problems as well as everyday the everyday struggles of raising a child.
All of the children born in the last three generations of my family were born to young parents, my sister having one child at 18 and ready to go into labor any day at the age of 20 and myself having my first child at 21 and being pregnant with my second which will be born while I am 22. My mother had me at 19 and my sister at 21 as well as a stillborn son at 23. The reason I am telling you this is because, even though my mother was young, there was a 50/50 risk of passing on a genetic defect (Marfan Syndrome) to each of her children. I inherited it but my sister did not. I have the same risk of passing it down to my children. But we knew the risks, both to ourselves and our children and knew that we would be able to handle the physical as well as mental responsibilities associated with having children with this syndrome. In the end the stress placed on her heart from the pregnancies cost my mother her life but she knew that her family would take care of my sister and me, the same as I know if something should happen to me, my family would care for my two children. After this child is born, if the doctors say that it is unwise to have another child due to my personal health, then there will be no more biological children. The fact that Marfan Syndrome could be passed down to my children didn't hinder me having children because in the end they are children and a blessing no matter if they are deemed 'imperfect' by the world.
As far as unplanned pregnancies in older mothers, if they decide to keep the children I think that it is great. Sure there is the increased risk of health issues in the child, and as Phoeberg said, the mortality of the parents that would come into question, there is still a child that (hopefully) will be loved and cherished the same as if the parents were in the early thirties. I think the child would be better off with loving parents for a short while instead of not being born at all. Or, as some have mentioned, there is adoption, not only being adopted into the older mother's home, but being adopted out into a home with younger parents. As long as the child is loved and taken care of to the best of the parents' ability I don't see the problem with it.
Besides, there are a lot worse things that a mother could do to their child, born or unborn, than being of 'advanced maternal age'. In the world that we live in today I think being a little older when a woman has a baby is the least of our worries.
The moon so bright shows me the way
Deep in the graveyard beside her I lay
Knowing she'll keep me safe from all harms
Though six feet apart, I lay in her arms...