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Yes I’m 43, but I have the maternal age of a 29 year old

February 5, 2011

So those fears that I spoke of when I announced my pregnancy? Down Syndrome and Trisomy 13/18 and more are a couple of those fears. Genetic disorders.I was screened for Jewish genetic disorders in my last pregnancy and was found to NOT be a carrier, risks were low for these because Dave is not Jewish.

The risk for these increase tremendously with age. In fact, for a woman of my age the ratios are as follows:

Down Syndrome: 1:35
Trisomy 13/18: 1:61

Those are some scary numbers. But we did not know them prior to the genetic testing, which is a good thing because we would have been obsessed with them.

So on Monday, we went to meet with the genetic counselor, give some blood and have a nuchal translucency (NT) measurement. These tests were to give me a clearer picture of my actual risks (the appointment itself was called ‘risk assessment’) instead of just a number based on my age.

We were asked a series of questions about our family health histories, so it is important to try to ask your own questions prior to the appointment. We were able to give an accurate history to our genetic counselor.

On Friday, we received our results. After testing, our ratios changed. For Down Syndrome, it was now 1:681 and for the trisomies it was now 1:1201. The same chance as a 29 year old healthy woman. This was thrilling news for us.

There is other testing available that we refused. Such as an amniocentesis. We felt like the non-invasive testing was enough for us. Even if the tests were to come out positive for any of these genetic disorders, we would have continued the pregnancy and loved this baby exactly the same as we do now.

I think the moral of this story is, don’t be afraid to have children at an “advanced maternal age”. Don’t let it scare you. Don’t listen to those who say “But you’re so old”.. Some of my friends are grandmothers at my age! But this way? Having children later in life? This was OUR decision, not anyone elses. We knew the risks, and there are risks with EVERY pregnancy. Seek a professional who is well versed in high risk pregnancies who can give you positive support and guidance. We have that in the OB we have chosen and the friends and family we surround ourselves with.

Go forth and be fertile.

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