Question for Betty.
 
When is the best age, physiologically to start having children?
 
Betty's Answer.
 

The best time to have children is when you are emotionally, financially, and physically ready.  Ten steps to getting healthy from the March of Dimes Foundation before pregnancy are:

1.  Take folic acid 400 mcg daily, before and during early pregnancy can help your baby's brain and spinal cord develop properly.

2.  Get a check-up before pregnancy, to evaluate your health and identify health and lifestyle risks that my affected your pregnancy. Don't forget dental health also.

3.  Eat right and maintain a health weight.  Cut back on caffeine.  Try to get to a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

4.  Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

5.  Stop drinking alcohol.  Drinking alcohol before or during pregnancy can cause your baby to have conditions that can created lifelong problems like:  Fetal alcohol syndrome, low birthweight, heart defects, growth problems and problems with brain development.

6.  Don't use illegal drugs. 

7.  Avoid infections. Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathrom, blowing your nose, and before eating.  Avoid raw meat and fish and unpasteurized milk product.  Wash all fruits and vegetables well.  Avoid cat litter boxes, stay away from rodents.  Get tested for sexually transmitted infections. 

8.  Limit exposure to hazardous chemicals such as cleaning supplies, chemicals and paint.

9.   Talk to your health care provider about your family history, genetics and birth defects. 

10.  Avoid stress and get fit.  Use relaxation techniques, reduce stress, and exercise regularly.

It is also important to help Dad get healthy too, with the above tips.

Today, more couples are starting families later in life.  Older women often worry that their age will affect their fertility and the health of their babies.  There is no set age that is unsafe for women to become pregnant. 

 Older women do have to deal with issues during pregnancy that do not apply to younger women, such as the risk of Down syndrome increase with the mother's age.  At age 25, the risk of having a baby with down syndrome is 1 in 1,250; at age 35 the risk is 1 in 400; at age 40 the risk is 1 in 100; and at age 45, the risk is 1 in 30.  Even though the risk is greater as the mother's age increases, about 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under age 35.  this is because younger women have more baies than older women.

For women aged 35 years and older, the chances of having a normal pregnancy and healthy baby are great, especially with good preconception and prenatal care.