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Health Care Women Int. 2005 Oct;26(9):852-75.

Is older maternal age a risk factor for preterm birth and fetal growth restriction? A systematic review.

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Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


To determine if there was an association between advancing maternal age and adverse pregnancy outcomes (preterm delivery and small-for-gestational-age births), a systematic review was conducted based on a comprehensive search of the literature from 1985 to 2002. Ten studies met the following inclusion criteria: (1) assessed risk factors for preterm birth by subtype (i.e., idiopathic preterm labor, preterm premature rupture of membranes) and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) birth (fetal growth restriction); (2) used acceptable definitions of these outcomes; (3) were published between January 1985 and December 2002; (4) were restricted to studies that have considered preterm birth due to idiopathic preterm labor or premature rupture of membranes or both; (5) were restricted to singleton live births; (6) were conducted in a developed country; and (7) were published in English. The majority of the studies reviewed found that older maternal age was associated with preterm birth. There is insufficient evidence to determine if older maternal age is an independent and direct risk factor for preterm birth and SGA birth, or a risk marker that exerts its influence on gestational age or birth weight or both through its association with age-dependent confounders. Future research is needed to quantify the independent and unconfounded impact of delayed childbearing on neonatal outcomes, as well as to identify the pathways involved.

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