Literatus: Age of ‘complicated’ pregnancy


PREGNANCY, at least in natural pregnancy, is an arena wherein nature beats science and statistics.

The statistical rule of central tendency cannot cover all cases, as it should. Some women are infertile at age 25. Meanwhile, some reports have circulated of a 50-year-old giving birth to twins. Moreover, speaking of twins, science can intervene in a less natural manner, such as in the case of Pepe and Pilar, when the natural means can be risky. The theology of that, however, can be very complex.

Nevertheless, rising risk and declining fertility are the more important issues in age-related pregnancy, according to obstetrician-gynecologist Heather Rupe in her June 22 article in WebMD.

Rupe reported that the strongest risks came from miscarriage and complications, such as genetic abnormalities, particularly Down syndrome. Miscarriage rate at age 40 is 40 to 50 percent (15 to 20 percent, age 29 and younger). Down syndrome rate is 1/35 (2.9 percent) at age 45 (only 1/350 at age 35).

Meanwhile, female fertility declines with age implausibly, differing only in the level of decline across ages starting age 30. After 30, fertility supposedly declines three percent every year. Younger females (under age 30) have an infertility rate of only around five percent. Conversely, at age 40, the chances for pregnancy had dropped to five percent to 10 percent.

All these, however, are mathematical estimations or statistics. Perhaps you can email me for the exceptions you know. From these facts, both from science and nature, it is unwise to postpone pregnancy because of a budding career because, at age 40, it can be too late. Money cannot buy natural birth. Of course, unnatural births can be achieved through test tube (in vitro or “in tube”) fertilization, which is often delivered through a younger surrogate mother.

For Catholics, this can present some fundamental problems. It can be like plucking the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3. In fact, it can be a question of “my will” against “God’s will,” a fundamental part in the Lord’s Prayer. Of course, its details are beyond the scope of this article.


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