News of Janet Jackson’s pregnancy first broke out in soon after she announced on Twitter that she was postponing her Unbreakable World Tour in May. But it wasn’t until this week that the pop star confirmed the news with an exclusive photo shoot with People.
“We thank God for our blessing,” the 50-year-old star said.
This is Jackson’s first pregnancy.
According to Us Weekly, Jackson and her husband, Qatari business magnate Wissam Al Mana, met in 2010 at a hotel opening in Dubai. The low-profile couple didn’t announce their marriage until 2013—a year after it actually happened. In an exclusive statement to Entertainment Tonight, the couple said that they had gotten married in a “quiet, private, and beautiful ceremony” in 2012.
“I’m getting older and I feel more settled,” Jackson told Us Weekly. “We have a deep bond, a deep connection.”
On the next page: is it safe to get pregnant at 50?
More and more women, like Jackson, are now choosing to delay pregnancy until they are older.
It’s been thought that women over the age of 35 would have significantly more trouble conceiving a baby compared to their younger counterparts, but according to a 2014 study, women at age 35 had an 88% chance of becoming pregnant, and at age 38 have an 80% likelihood of becoming pregnant.
But after the age of 40, fertility deteriorates at a rapid rate. At age 41, women have a 50% chance of becoming pregnant, and at 45 that drops to 10%.
The risks of having a baby at “advanced maternal age”
According to What to Expect, even though women over 35 can easily get pregnant, 35 is still an “advanced maternal age” because these pregnancies are riskier. Shannon Clark, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, told USA Today that the women over 35 are more likely to have babies with Down syndrome.
Even perfectly healthy older women are more likely to develop serious conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, director of Labor and Delivery at Cedars-Sinai Paolo Aghajanian told USA Today.
What about Janet Jackson?
Many have expressed concern over the health of Jackson’s child, but according to OB-GYN Shahin Ghadir, the risks of having a child with birth defects depends on the age of the egg, not the mother per se. As most women in the US begin menopause at 51, Jackson probably either froze her eggs or used a donor egg, Dr. Ghadir told Us Weekly.
“The chance of pregnancy spontaneously or with IVF at the age of 49 using Janet’s own egg is less than 1 percent,” Dr. Ghadir said. “There is an extremely high probability that she froze her eggs at an earlier age or that she used an egg donor.”
“If she’s using an egg donor, the risks of having these chromosomal abnormalities is very low”
“If it’s Janet’s own egg at the age of 49, she has a much higher chance of having a baby born with chromosomal abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome,” Dr. Ghadir continued. “If she’s using an egg donor, the risks of having these chromosomal abnormalities is very low.”
No reports have confirmed whether or not Jackson used a donor egg or her own frozen eggs, but in a 2008 interview with The Guardian, she mentioned being interested in freezing her eggs.
“I get so much pressure from people I don’t even know and I think: ‘My God, am I missing my moment?'” the then 41-year-old said. “Even my mother mentioned something to me the other day. But now you can have your eggs frozen and there are all sorts of things you can do, I’ve still got time so I think I’m OK.”
READ: Mature Pregnancy: Pregnant Over 35
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