More babies are being born to women over 40 than those under 20 [Photo: Rex features]
There are two groups of mothers who tend to garner headlines, older mums and teenage mums. But it seems the trend for having babies later in life could be about to grab the limelight because for the first time since 1947 women over 40 are having more babies than those under 20.
A new report by Office for National Statistics (ONS) in England and Wales has revealed that in 2015 there were 15.2 births per 1,000 women aged 40 and over in 2015 compared to just 14.5 for those aged under 20.
In 1981, the rate was 4.9 for women aged 40 and over compared to 28.1 for women under 20, which means the fertility rate among older women has more than trebled since 1981.
The ONS data also showed the average age of mothers giving birth in 2015 was 30.3, which has risen slightly from 30.2, the average age in 2014.
The trend of older motherhood looks here to stay [Photo: Rex Features]
Commenting on the findings Elizabeth McLaren, Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, Office for National Statistics said:
“The trend for women to have babies at older ages continued in 2015. Over the last 40 years, the percentage of live births to women aged 35 and over has increased considerably. Women aged 40 and over, now have a higher fertility rate than women aged under 20 - this was last recorded in the 1940s.”
But Professor Adam Balen, the chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: “We know that female fertility starts to decline gradually from the late 20s and more rapidly from the mid-30s onwards.
"While the risks should never be overplayed, men and women should be aware that reproductive outcomes are poorer in older women.
"As well as it potentially taking longer to get pregnant, later maternity can involve a greater risk of miscarriage, a more complicated labour, and medical intervention at the birth.”
The ONS has revealed its findings [Photo: Rex Features]
The news comes as Professor Balen just last week issued a warning that girls as young as nine should be advised about their ticking biological clock.
But Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, believes that because the trend to enter parenthood later in life looks set to stay we should be offering more support to older mothers. “The trend towards older motherhood is here to stay, and there are many understandable reasons why women today are waiting longer to start or expand their families than those in previous decades,” she said.
More babies are being born to women 40+ [Photo: Rex Features]
“Rather than bemoaning this development, we should seek to understand and support the decisions women make. More affordable childcare and improved maternity rights may make it easier for some women to start their families earlier if they wish, but we also need to ensure we have high quality reproductive healthcare services configured to meet women’s needs, whatever the age at which they conceive.”
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