A. When people become more settled and mature, their ability to rear children changes, says Dr. S. Jules Moodley, chairman of Fairview Hospital's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"I always tell people that if I had an opportunity to do it over, I would have children later in life," says Moodley
, who specializes in caring for older mothers-to-be and their babies.
"The problem with having children in your early 20s is that you are still setting up your own life - trying to accumulate wealth, buy a house, and do all of those things - and then you don't have enough time for them.
So I always say that having kids at a later age in life is a good thing."
More and more women must agree with Moodley
says, almost 11 percent of all births today are to women 35 and older.
"What has been shown very clearly is that if an older woman is healthy - she
body weight is more optimum, and she
does not have diabetes, hypertensive disease or other medical problems - then her
potential for carrying a baby perfectly fine is excellent and, in fact, comparable to much younger women," Moodley
adds, age is also the number one factor when it comes to fertility issues and chromosomal problems such as Down's syndrome.
At age 35, for example, you have one in 133 chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome and at age 37 it's one in 75, and those risks increase with age, Moodley
"There is also diminishing fertility as women age and it's something that they have to put into perspective when they are planning.
In addition, older women are slightly more likely to have premature babies, low birth weight babies and Caesarean sections.
"Preconceptual evaluation is vital for older women who are planning to get pregnant," Moodley