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Meghan Markle is having a geriatric pregnancy – but it’s got a better name

Meghan Markle will become a mum for the first time next Spring – at the grand old age of 37.

Kensington Palace announced the news Meghan is pregnant as the couple enjoy a rest day after travelling to Australia for their royal tour.

The Duchess of Sussex is far from unusual in having a child in her late 30s, and is not the oldest royal to become a mum either.

Changes in society mean more and more women are having their children later in life, with the average age for first time mums now standing at 28.8 and the overall average hitting 30.4, according to statistics for England and Wales in 2016.

But 35 remains a milestone age when it comes to pregnancy – even if the label that used to come with it is disappearing.

The traditional term ‘geriatric pregnancy’ is thankfully largely consigned to history, although seemingly less so in the United States.

Now you are more likely to read about ‘older mums’, ‘advanced maternal age’ and ‘mothers aged 35 and above’.

Whatever it is called, women who are pregnant after 35 do face greater risks of pregnancy complications and related health problems – from fertility and conception, through pregnancy to birth and the child’s own health.

Some of the risks highlighted by the NHS include:

  • Higher risk of miscarriage
  • Higher risk of having twins or triplets – with multiple births also associated with higher risk of complications
  • Increased likelihood of a baby with a congenital abnormality like Down’s syndrome
  • Higher risk of pre-eclampsia
  • Higher risk of delivery complications like prolonged labour, need for assisted delivery or C-section, or stillbirth

The NHS adds: "Many women planning on becoming pregnant in later life will be well aware of some of the possible difficulties in conceiving or the risks of complications.

"Many women who become pregnant in their late 30s and early 40s have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies. All pregnant women and those planning pregnancy, regardless of age, should be fully informed, receive optimal care and support and the appropriate medical attention required to meet any needs that arise from becoming a mother."

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  • Bookies slashed odds on announcement

The NHS recommends older mums-to-be should be aware of the risks of genetic disorders and the screening that can be done, making sure things like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are managed and stable, and taking folic acid and vitamin supplements around the time of conception.

It also recommends "a woman’s health should be as optimal as possible prior to pregnancy, which means maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking" – although that advice applies just as well at any age.

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