Aim. This study was to describe and compare the health concerns, behaviours and anxiety of advanced age pregnant women (35 years and older) with their younger counterparts.
Background. Women have specific health concerns and behaviours during pregnancy. Delayed childbearing has an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and advanced age pregnant women may have more health concerns than younger ones.
Design. A cross-sectional study.
Method. Primigravidae Chinese women aged 35 or older (n = 47) and 188 younger than aged 35 were recruited in February and March of 2005 by convenient sampling from the antenatal clinic of a regional hospital in Hong Kong to complete a questionnaire.
Findings. Advanced age pregnant women when compared with their counterparts were more likely to have tertiary education (42·6% vs. 28·7%) and a higher family monthly income of Hong Kong $40 001 or more (40·5% vs. 15·4%). They were more likely to be concerned the possibility of miscarriage (63·8% vs. 45·9%) and the physical demands of caring for the newborn (61·7% vs. 45·4%) but were more likely to take up healthy behaviours such as ‘eating nutritious food’ (100%) and avoiding ‘wearing tight clothing and high-heel shoes’(100%). Advanced age women were more likely to be concerned about their ‘recovery after childbirth’ (63·8% vs. 42·7%), Down’s syndrome (70·2% vs. 37·8%) and structural defects of their foetus (78·7% vs. 54·1%).
Conclusion. The results of this study provide a background for improving prenatal care catering for the specific health concerns of the advanced aged and promotion of health behaviours among younger pregnant women.
Relevance to clinical practice. Antenatal, obstetric and community health nurses have the responsibility to provide education and support services catering to the special concerns of pregnant women at different ages. Health professionals should promote the prime time for childbearing and deliver messages regarding the potential problems associated with later childbearing at premarital counselling.