Q: We both are 36 years old,Is there any risk to fetus during late pregnancy? Is there any special precaution to be taken during pregnancy because of our age?
A:Is the wife already pregnant, or is pregnancy being planned.Pregnancy at age of 36 years poses an increased risk of Down syndrome (anextra chromosome number 21) - from the usual risk of about 1 in 1000 to onein 300 or so. One can screen for the presence of chromosomal disease in thefetus by ultrasound studies between 10 to 14 weeks of pregnancy and a bloodtest (PAPP-A and free beta HCG). Another ultra sound and blood test at 16weeks reduce the risk even further. The definitive test is amniocentesis at16 weeks of pregnancy, where the amniotic fluid is sampled and then culturedto study the chromosomes of the fetus.