Pregnancy for Older Women: Assessing the Medical Risks

By Phyllis Kernoff Mansfield | Go to book overview

APPENDIX C Selected Medical Views Concerning Pregnancy at Advanced Maternal Age
Date
Written
View of Advanced Maternal Age Effect
1910-19 "We all were taught in medical school that childbirth in the
elderly primipara is considerably more difficult than in the
younger primipara and is to be dreaded both by patient and
physician. . . . We must conclude that the tradition handed
down to us from past generations of the many dangers of child-
birth in the elderly primiparae can no longer be maintained un-
reservedly" ( Spain, 1912, p. 421). [R]
"In our experience the course of pregnancy, labor and the puer-
perium in a woman over 30 years of age differs but little from
that in one under 30" ( Berkeley & Bonney, 1915, p. 315). [T]
1920-29 "Practical obstetric experience has shown that . . . occasionally
even a woman near the menopausal age may have her first baby
with surprising ease and rapidity. Apparently, then, age is not
the only factor involved or always the most important one"
( Schulze, 1929, p. 824). [R]
1930-39 "It is hard to understand why childbearing in the elderly primi-
para has been thought to be so very difficult and so fraught with
dire consequences. The opinion prevails quite generally in the
medical profession and is shared also by the laity . . . yet most
of those who have written upon the subject believe . . . that not
only is there little added risk to the mother . . . but that the
fetal mortality is no higher . . ." ( Quigley, 1931, p. 234). [R]
One can "naturally expect" increased uterine inertias with long
labors, more toxemias, resistant soft parts, and a resulting in-
crease in fetal and maternal morbidity and mortality ( Daichman, 1932, p. 127). [R]
"Many women are purposely avoiding maternity on the ground
that they are too old to bear children without great hazard to
themselves. In addition, such women are very often unfavor-
ably influenced by the belief of the laity in a frequently dan-
gerous . . . labor. This erroneous supposition is immediately
given additional weight by haphazard lay and at times, quasi-
scientific medical advice" ( Nathanson, 1935, p. 159). [R]
Note: [R] = comment from a research journal; [T] = comment from a medi-
cal textbook; [P] = comment from a popular book or article.

-163-

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