Indications are that an increasing number of young women in their childbearing age are delaying childbirth in their quest to obtain higher education and professions.
But medical practitioners have advised that having children too late in life has health implications for both mothers and their babies.
For instance, undue delay in childbearing can lead to having babies with Down Syndrome and other genetic conditions.
Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and certain physical characteristics.
According to health experts, children with Down Syndrome have slanted eyes , a small mouth with a tongue that may stick out, a flat facial cranium, below average weight and length at birth, and their palm may have only one crease across it.
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Reacting to the trend, a medical doctor at Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Dr Yaw Boateng, noted that young women of today were of the notion that early childbirth interfered with achieving their goals in life, while others want to have fun before they have children.
In the opinion of Dr Obaapanyin Acquaah of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, most of these women would also want to achieve their full academic/career potential before they start a family as they think having kids can be a hindrance to attaining their goals.
A medical doctor at the HealthLink Medical Clinic, Dr Emmanuel Amankra, told The Mirror in an interview that the practice of late birth-giving caused pregnancy-induced hypertension and risk of prolonged labour which among others could result in permanent injury to the baby.
Also, delay in childbirth, according to him, generates vagina delivery problems, and caesarean section becomes an option with its associated problems. This invariably exposes women and children to all manner of health risks, he pointed out.
Dr Amankra explained that medically, it was advisable to give birth in one’s prime, saying, “too early and you are predisposed to pregnancy complications and too late and also complications arise. There’s no fixed age but one can unofficially say 20s and early 30s," he stated.
Commenting on the issue, another medical doctor at the Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Dr Florence Akumiah, explained that extreme age childbearing posed a greater risk of obstetric complications such as preterm labour, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy to late childbearers.
Similarly, those less than 18 years are exposed to problems with According to Dr Akumiah, “babies of these two groups will be at increased risk of intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity, low birth risk and birth defects”.
She advised women of over 35 years who would want to have babies to endeavour to seek specialist care, since they were in the highest risk category for preconception care.
Preconception care is the health care a woman receives before she becomes pregnant as health providers would introduce measures which would help in preventing any future problems associated with the mother and the baby.
“Preconception care is also essential in these age groups. Typically, you’d want to discourage conception before 18 years, so you’d offer counselling on prevention, safe sex and contraception. But for those above 35 years that is where emphasis should be put on preconception care,” she explained.