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Pre-implantation screening offers distinct advantages over other screening methods like amniocentesis and CVS, or chorionic villus sampling, which are conducted at later points in gestation and entail greater risk of miscarriage.
The manifold concerns of late childbearing extend beyond conception. Once pregnant, would-be mothers over 35 face higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition that causes high blood pressure and organ damage in expectant mothers.
Vigilant observation can mitigate some of the concerns. Weekly maternal stress tests that monitor heart rate, placental blood flow and other factors are recommended for pregnant women in their 40s. Such monitoring can be time consuming and stressful, but it can also be vital.
For Amanda Stein, who recently gave birth to her first child at 47, maternal stress tests proved life-saving. When she was 39 weeks pregnant with her son, Caleb, a test revealed that the baby’s heart rate was falling. During contractions, the umbilical cord had wrapped around his neck.
“That monitoring enabled him to get there safely, one month and one day ago,” Stein said. “The amount of support, and the gifts and the notes and the visitors, has just been astronomical. And I think that part of that is that people recognize what a miracle this is.”