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Doctors warn of over-35 pregnancy dangers

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Career women who put off motherhood until their mid-30s risk the heartbreak of infertility, failed pregnancies and serious health problems, a new report says.

"Women want to 'have it all,' but [their] biology is unchanged," obstetrician Susan Bewley wrote in a signed editorial published in The British Medical Journal. "Deferring defies nature and risks heartbreak."

She and two other top doctors found that women over 35 are far likelier to suffer age-related fertility problems, including miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, twin births, bleeding and high blood pressure.

And once women pass the age of 40, these possibilities increase even further.

"We are seeing the disease burden of this social trend going up," said Bewley, of St. Thomas' Hospital in London, who, with two other specialists, penned the report, titled "Which Career First?"

"As the number of older mothers is going up, most are fine, but in our gynecological and obstetric clinics, we are seeing a lot of casualties of this trend."

She said that it was harder for older women to become and stay pregnant.

But Dr. Steve Goldstein, a top Ob/Gyn physician at NYU Medical Center, said while women should be aware of the risks in waiting too late to have kids, new strides in medical science and better health care are helping them beat the odds.

"We continue to get better at ways of circumventing nature," said Goldstein, predicting that such techniques as freezing embryos will eventually be commonplace.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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