Vinita and Kumar Iyer seemed to have it all – a marriage made in heaven, brilliant careers, fabulous friends, an EMI-free home, great health and more. At 38, Vinita started experiencing a lacuna. The sight of small children made her dreamy. With a jolt, she realized that her biological clock was ticking away and that she had to do something about it now. When she spoke about this to Kumar, he was a bit more apprehensive. At 42, he thought he was too old for fatherhood. Moreover, some of his cousins who became first time fathers at an older age had children with developmental and other health issues.
As the biological clock ticks…
Today, more and more women opt for babies at a later age. India has witnessed a tremendous rise in first-time mothers aged 35 and above. While many older women have easy pregnancies and perfectly healthy babies, doctors have been advising cautions. Recent findings also suggest that father’s age can also affect the baby’s health. On the other hand, studies also indicate that older mothers ensure the best possible care during pregnancy, as they are aware of the various associated health risks.
Early studies including one by Alexander Graham Bell reported reduced life expectancy in children born to older mothers. Many studies also point to increased risk of genetic abnormalities including Down’s syndrome among babies. Geneticists and healthcare providers attribute many adverse health effects in babies born to older women to pregnancy related complications as well as chromosomal and DNA changes. In fact, DNA damage in sperm was found to be associated with increased paternal age.
Considering the impact of genetics on the health of children born to older parents, most doctors recommend genetic screening. While standard procedures like trisomy screening are part of the regular battery of tests recommended during pregnancy, doctors may recommend genetic counseling or other relevant tests.
The Iyers decided to opt for genetic counseling before they started planning for the baby. Kumar explained, “I don’t want to take chances, especially knowing that my cousins’ children have been diagnosed with conditions that have a significant hereditary component.” Following advice from our genetic counselor Pooja Ramchandran, they opted for the required tests. Their relief after learning that they are not carriers of any of the inherited conditions was palpable. Kumar, especially cannot wait to become a Daddy.
Pooja says that cases like the Iyers’ are on rise today. She adds “Older first-time parents are more aware of all the risks and are not willing to take chances with their babies’ health. Their life-time experiences have taught them to learn about the risks and make informed choices.”
Planning a pregnancy?
Now that you have decided to plan for a baby, our newest genetic test BabyMap may help you and your doctor understand your risk as a carrier for 71+ conditions, that can be treated easily in newborns if screened early. Our genetic counselors can help you understand your health better and plan for a healthy baby. Call 1800-102-4595 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a session with our genetic counselors or to talk to our technical experts.