Living: The Medical Risks of Waiting

New techniques make it safe for older mothers

To a doctor, a woman pregnant for the first time after 35 is an "elderly primigravida." If that sounds unappealing, it may reflect the medical establishment's longtime disapproval of delayed motherhood. The traditional view was that pregnant women in their 30s were risky patients, complications could be expected, and a caesarean, many doctors thought, was pro forma.

Today that view has changed. "I even hate to use that term now," says Washington, D.C., Obstetrician William Gold. "We've learned that women over 35 can have normal pregnancies. Age is not necessarily a problem."

The reversal has come...

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