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Running Out of Time?

September 14, 1998|Barbara J. Chuck

Women, are you putting off the pitter-patter of little feet until you're mid-30-something or older? Welcome to the club. Lots of your sisters have, including Diana Ross and Adrienne Barbeau.

It's a myth that being 35 or older means your pregnancy will be high risk. Yes, it's true that there is a greater chance of having multiple births, fertility problems, developing diabetes or high blood pressure and having babies with genetic problems such as Down syndrome. But know that most women who choose to have a baby at 35 or older have normal pregnancies.

Just remember that what's healthy for you is often healthy for your baby. Likewise, what's harmful to you may harm your baby even more. Before and after you become pregnant, don't:

* use recreational drugs.

* drink alcohol.

* smoke.

But do:

* take a daily vitamin supplement that contains folic acid (which reduces the chances of some birth defects) and iron.

* eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

* stay physically active.

* maintain a healthy weight.

Of course, work closely with your health-care provider and ask questions. Don't be shy about asking for information. The more you know, the healthier you--and your baby--will be. If you have a sexually transmitted disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic health problems, you may need extra care during pregnancy.

Some things you may want to learn more about include:

* genetic counseling: You will be asked detailed questions about your family health history so that the risk of birth defects in your baby can be studied. You may also have medical tests.

* amniocentesis: This test, which studies the amniotic fluid, the liquid that surrounds the fetus in the womb, can help diagnose birth defects and other problems. Women 35 and older often undergo this test.

Source: Based on information provided by StayWell Co.

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