A new study has shed light on the level of risk for Australian women who fall pregnant and give birth over the age of 35.
The findings? The presence of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease carried a higher health risk for women over 35, compared to the risks associated with their age, news.com.au reports.
The study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Researchers found that age constituted only a minimal risk factor for the women or their babies dying, or their children developing a severe health condition. But mothers over 35 with pre-existing medical conditions who fell pregnant had higher risk levels.
The study concluded: “For women aged ≥35 years, presence of medical conditions conferred a greater risk for morbidity/mortality than age itself.”
As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, a 35-year-old giving birth for the first time had an estimated 5 percent chance of perinatal death or serious complications, while this increased to 5.7 percent for 40-year-old mothers.
But the results significantly increased to 12.4 percent risk for a first time mum at 35 who had diabetes.
Lead author University of Sydney Professor Jonathan Morris explained the importance of the study to the SMH.
"What this work has done for the first time is looked at things other than age,” he said.
“When you examine the contribution of age compared with medical conditions or what's happened in your pregnancies before - those characteristics are far more important than age."
Researchers looked at 17,357 pregnancies among 99,375 women by studying NSW birth records from 2006-2012.
You can read the full study here.