What is a Geriatric Pregnancy? (And Why Meghan Markle is Having One)

Every royal watcher has baby fever now that they officially know Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting their first child. It has everyone thinking about baby names, baby showers, and pretty much anything with the word “baby” attached to it.

But there’s one word you may not have expected to hear connected to this event: Geriatric.

That’s right. At 37-year-old, the Duchess of Sussex is considered to be having a geriatric pregnancy.

Not sure what that is? Here’s what you need to know.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle | Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

First off: What classifies as a geriatric pregnancy?

For a pregnancy to fall into this category the expecting mother must be at least 35 years old. And while modern day thinking may classify this as “too old” to get pregnant, more women are having children into their 30s. (In fact, Healthline admits the term is outdated.)

Although it’s more difficult for women to get pregnant after age 35, it’s a trend that is on the rise.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, birth rates for women 35-39 years of age has increased from the mid-1970s. Additionally, “first birth” rates for women 35-39 years of age rose in nearly every state between 2000 and 2012.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | Geoff Pugh – WPA Pool/Getty Images

What are the drawbacks of a geriatric pregnancy?

As Healthline details, having a baby at an older age can potentially come with complications. The mother can experience dangerously high blood pressure or can be at a higher risk of having a miscarriage. There is also a higher risk of labor complications and may result in a cesarean session. Babies born to mothers over 35 also have a higher risk of having chromosomal defects. (Down syndrome has been linked to geriatric pregnancies because of how hormones evolve in the female body.)

However, these risk factors are not a given

It is absolutely possible for a pregnant woman aged 35 or older to have a healthy pregnancy without any complications. And given how many more women are having children in their 30s and 40s, there are clearly plenty of mothers out there successfully having babies at an older age.

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