LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Proudly showing off her baby bump, Janet Jackson confirmed to People Magazine Wednesday that she is expecting her first child at age 50.
The singer is among many women who are waiting to have children later in life.
Dr. Yvonne Bohn, who is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, said she wanted to remind women that Jackson’s case is not the norm, and there are risks when an older woman gets pregnant.
It is unknown how the pop star’s baby was conceived. Bohn said it is still rare for a woman her age to be expecting.
But the physician said reproductive technology is helping increase older women’s chances of getting pregnant.
“I think it’s pretty special that Janet Jackson is pregnant,” Bohn said. “The actual likelihood that a woman at 50 will conceive spontaneously is probably less than 1 percent. In a 50-year-old woman, her success rate with a donor egg is 50 percent, which is the same as a 35-year-old. So because it’s not her uterus that’s the problem, it’s her eggs.”
But even with donor eggs, the risk of complications for mom and baby increases for older women.
“You’re talking about preterm birth, early delivery, cesarean delivery is increased up to about 50 percent for women over the age of 40, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia.”
Older mothers also increase the risks of having babies with chromosomal disorders like Down Syndrome.
Dr. Bohn said the good news is there is now improving technology to ensure they will have healthy babies.
“If a couple is doing in vitro fertilization, now we can actually sample the embryo before implanting it to make sure that we’re implanting an embryo that is genetically normal,” she added. “We still recommend that you try to conceive spontaneously because everyone’s fertility is different. One woman may be fertile at 50, and one may not be fertile at 30.”
Bohn said she had a client who conceived with a donor egg at age 59 and gave birth at 60. The baby is healthy.
She advised that a woman who wants to have a baby later in life should freeze her eggs the earlier, the better.