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Can J Public Health. 2006 Jul-Aug;97(4):330-4.

What do women know about the risks of delayed childbearing?

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Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.



Women aged 35 and older account for an increasing proportion of births and are at increased risk of pregnancy complications and poor infant outcomes. The objectives of the study were: 1) to determine what women know about delayed childbearing, including pregnancy complications and outcomes associated with low birthweight (LBW, < 2500 grams), preterm delivery (< 37 weeks) and multiple birth, and 2) to assess the characteristics of women with limited knowledge of risks.


A computer-assisted telephone interview survey was conducted with 1,044 randomly selected women who delivered their first live-born infant, between July 2002 and September 2003, in two urban centres, Calgary and Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada.


The proportion of women aware of specific childbearing risks associated with advanced maternal age were as follows: conception difficulties (85.3%), multiple birth (24.0%), caesarean section (18.8%), preterm delivery (21.8%), and LBW (11.2%). Knowledge of specific developmental and health-related risks of suboptimal infant outcomes ranged between 18.0% and 46.5%. Logistic regression revealed that limited knowledge of maternal age-related pregnancy risks were associated with unplanned pregnancy (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.03-2.14), smoking (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.29-2.60) and non-use of fertility treatment (OR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.44-3.19). Characteristics associated with limited knowledge of the risks associated with suboptimal birth outcomes were: age 35-39 years (OR, 2.98; 95% CI, 1.35-6.58), less than post-graduate education (< or = high school OR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.20-3.82), and not currently enrolled as a student (OR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.02-3.00).


Many women are generally unaware of the potential consequences of delayed childbearing. There are missed opportunities in preconception counselling and education, which should be addressed to allow for more informed decision-making about family planning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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