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Stroke and heart risk greater for older mothers: Study

By Ella Pickover

Women who delay motherhood until they are 40 or older are more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke in later life than women who have children at a younger age, new research suggests.

The study, presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, examined data concerning more than 72,000 women, with 3,300 of them reporting that they became pregnant late in life.

The researchers compared their rates of stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular death over 12 years of follow-up examinations with women who were pregnant at a younger age.

They found that 2.4% of women who were expecting children at a younger age were at risk of ischemic stroke, compared to 3.8% of women who got pregnant over the age of 40.

Risk of a haemorrhagic stroke rose from 0.5% in younger mothers to 1% in older ones.

The chance of a heart attack also rose slightly for women who became pregnant over 40, from 2.5% to 3%.

Meanwhile, women who got pregnant later in life had a 3.9% risk of cardiovascular death compared to 2.3% of women who became pregnant earlier in life.

In 2014, 4% of newborns in England and Wales were born to mothers aged over 40.

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