Thursday 17 April 2014

40+ mothers 'most likely to lose baby in first year'

40+ mothers 'most likely to lose baby in first year'

Forty-something mothers are more likely to suffer the tragedy of losing their baby in the first year of life than those who give birth at a younger age, according to new figures.

Until very recently it was teenage mothers who had children with the highest infant mortality rate, due to ignorance of common dangers such as cot death.

However, figures from the Office for National Statistics show a new trend, with over 40s now most likely to lose a baby before the child’s first birthday.

Experts believe the change is driven by better support for teenage mothers, and an increase in ever-older mothers who are more likely to give birth to babies with severe congenital problems.

In 2008, mothers under 20 in England and Wales had by far the highest chance of losing their baby before the child’s first birthday: the infant mortality rate among them was 6.5 per 1,000 live births. But in 2011 the rate in this cohort had dropped to 5.4 per 1,000.

By contrast the infant mortality rate in children of mothers over 40 has risen slightly, from 5.3 to 5.5.

While the chance of losing a baby is now highest among the oldest mothers, it is actually lowest in those who are only slightly younger, 35 to 39-year-olds.

Between 2008 and 2010 the lowest rate of infant mortality was in mothers aged 30 to 34 years.

Stephen Adams

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