Labor outcome at extremely advanced maternal age

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Women of advanced maternal age (AMA) are at increased risk for cesarean delivery compared to non-AMA women. However, it is unclear whether this association is altered by parity and the presence or absence of a trial of labor.


We sought to examine modes of delivery and maternal outcomes among AMA women stratified by parity and the presence or absence of a trial of labor.


This is a retrospective cohort study of all women delivering singletons births at ≥20 weeks' gestation in the state of California from 2007 through 2011. Data were extracted from maternal discharge data linked to infant birth certificate records. We compared non-AMA women (age 20-34 years, reference group) to AMA women who were classified as follows: age 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, and ≥50 years). The primary outcome was route of delivery (cesarean vs vaginal) stratified by parity and whether a trial of labor occurred (prelabor vs intrapartum cesarean delivery). The association between a trial of labor and perinatal morbidity was also studied.


There were 1,346,889 women who met inclusion criteria, which included 181 (0.01%) women who were age ≥50 years at the time of delivery. Overall, 34.7% underwent a cesarean delivery and this risk differed significantly by age group (30.5%, 20-34 years; 40.5%, 35-39 years; 47.3%, 40-44 years; 55.6%, 45-49 years; 62.4%, >50 years). Nulliparous women age ≥50 years were significantly less likely to undergo a trial of labor compared to the reference group (relative risk [RR], 0.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.32–0.62). Furthermore, nulliparous women age ≥50 years were significantly more likely to experience an intrapartum cesarean delivery (RR, 2.61; 95% CI, 1.31–5.20), however the majority (74%) who underwent a trial of labor experienced a vaginal delivery. Compared to the reference group, women age ≥50 years were 5 times more likely to experience severe maternal morbidity (1.7% vs 0.3%; RR, 5.08; 95% CI, 1.65–15.61) and their infants 3 times more likely to require neonatal intensive care unit admission (14.9% vs 5.2%; RR, 3.1; 95% CI, 2.2–4.4), however these outcomes were not associated significantly with having undergone a trial of labor, a cesarean delivery following labor, or a prelabor cesarean delivery. Similar trends were observed among multiparous women.


Compared to non-AMA women, women age ≥50 years with a singleton pregnancy experience significantly higher rates of cesarean delivery. However the majority of those who undergo a trial of labor will have a vaginal delivery. Neither a trial of labor nor a prelabor cesarean delivery is significantly associated with maternal or neonatal morbidity. These data support either approach in women of extremely AMA.

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