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Mature Mammas

Highly-experienced physicians and staff at The Buntington Institute for Women's and Children's Health at St. Agnes provide specialized care for moms-to-be over 35

Posted on June 01, 2011 and filed under Stories.

Correct information in a convenient, comforting facility with great doctors.” That is how Dr. Cynthia Cesaire, an OB/ GYN with Seton Medical Group, describes the benefits of the Buntington Institute for Women’s and Children’s Health at Saint Agnes Hospital.

Those benefits may be particularly important to women over age 35 who are pregnant or would like to become pregnant. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, one in five mothers in the U.S.today has her first child when she is over age 35. Doctors and staff at the the Buntington Institute for Women’s and Children’s Health at Saint Agnes provide both a wealth of experience and specialized care for these mature moms-to-be.

The key to successfully managing these pregnancies involves maximizing the health of the mother, providing state-of-the-art genetic and fetal testing at appropriate times, and having an experienced medical team including maternal-fetal medicine specialists at the hospital in which the mother gives birth.

Information is Key

Many times, Dr. Cesaire said, medical professionals need to correct or clarify information that patients have gathered on the Internet or through media sources that emphasize the extremes.

The fact is that once a woman over age 35 successfully conceives, her odds of delivering a full term and healthy baby are very good, according to Dr. Cesaire. Still, there are risks that health care providers at Saint Agnes address with these patients.

The first concern is the health of the mother. It is important for any existing medical issues to be under control—for example, diabetes or hypertension. The quality of a woman’s eggs decline as she gets older, making it more difficult to successfully conceive a child. Although a woman cannot impact the health of her eggs, she can make sure that she is healthy, Dr.  Cesaire explained.

The next step is screening for genetic problems. At Saint Agnes, parents are educated about the tests available to assess risk of Down’s syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities that may affect the growing fetus. Although doctors may recommend certain testing for patients, tests are all elective based on the parents’ decisions.

First trimester blood tests and ultrasound screening can be conducted as early as nine weeks into the pregnancy. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), which tests placental tissue, and amniocentesis, which tests fluid from the amniotic sac around the baby, can be performed.

And, of course, women over 35 continue the schedule of screening and monitoring the baby’s health that all expectant mothers undergo. Once a woman of advanced maternal age reaches her 34th week of pregnancy, she is checked weekly with a biophysical profile to monitor the baby’s heartbeat, breathing movements, overall movements and amniotic fluid.  These tests can detect most potential problems so that, if necessary, the mother can be induced to deliver early.  This monitoring helps decrease the risks of stillborn births which, unfortunately, are more common with mothers of advanced age than with younger patients.

Pair this with Saint Agnes’s innovative “OB Rapid Response Team,” the newly renovated Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a regional leadership role in safety, and families can take comfort in the advanced care they will receive. The collaboration between perinatology, the Birthing Center and neonatology staff allows patients to receive 360 degrees of care at Saint Agnes.

BY SUSIE BREAUX

For more information about the Buntington Institute for Women’s and Children’s Health at Saint Agnes, click here.

 
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