An increasing number of women are having children over 40, according to a CDC report; a second report shows that the average age of new mothers is steadily climbing in general.
A National Vital Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control found that although the numbers remain small, more women than ever are opting to give birth after the big 4-0. Forbes breaks it down:
For women 40 to 44, the birth rate ticked up 2% from 2013 to 2014. And while the stats for those aged to 45 to 49 held steady during that timeframe, more women over 50 had babies in 2014: 743 births, compared to 677 in 2013.
While these numbers remain relatively small—for women between 40 and 44 the rate is just 10.6 births per 1,000 women—the CDC report notes that latest increases reflect a demographic trend that’s been going on for decades. What’s more, they come at time when the birth rates for teens and early twenty-somethings have fallen to record lows.
According to Forbes, career pressures are a major reason behind the shift. And while no scientific advancement has been able to entirely disrupt the narrow window of female fertility, IVF treatments are on the rise, and companies like Facebook and Apple now offer egg freezing benefits (a procedure which may or may not be a bit of a scam).
All that said, this small uptick in the number of post-40 pregnancies—and a constant barrage of wealthy celebrity wombs giving birth at 41, 44, 47, 48—doesn’t negate the fact that fertility begins to decrease at 30, and dramatically so at 40, with increased risks of miscarriage, medical complications, down syndrome, gestational diabetes, etc. etc.
Another CDC report published on Thursday also found, unsurprisingly for those of us who are 26 and still can’t imagine giving birth, that more women are having their first child over 30—21 percent, up from 16.5 percent in 2000. Overall, the average age when a mother first gives birth rose from 24.9 to 26.3 between 2000 and 2014. According to the report, this also has to do with a decrease in teenage pregnancies. A report on the CDC’s findings from NPR notes:
Bill Albert with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy calls the drop “one of the nation’s great unheralded success stories of the past two decades.” Overall, he says the teen pregnancy rate has halved since its peak in 1990, declining in all 50 states and among all racial and ethnic groups.
And although it remains to be seen how the Year of Trying to Defund Planned Parenthood will affect these teen pregnancy numbers, it’s this, perhaps, that is the real cause for celebration.
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