One in 25 babies born to over-40s / 53 year old woman gives birth to baby
- byNadia Gilani
theguardian.com, Thursday 17 October 2013
When my mother became pregnant I dreaded the baby’s arrival, but the love I feel for my brother has flicked my maternal switch
Number of women over 40 having a baby has risen fourfold in 30 years, and average age of first-time mother now 28.1
Denis Campbell, health correspondent
The Guardian, Tuesday 15 October 2013 18.30 EDT
The number of women over the age of 40 having a baby has increased more than fourfold in the last 30 years, figures show.
At the same time the number of women over 35 giving birth has risen almost as sharply, underlying the pronounced shift towards older motherhood.
In 1982 there were 6,519 live births in England and Wales to women aged 40 or more, about 1% of all babies born that year, Office of National Statistics data shows. By 2012 the figure had risen to 29,994, or 4.1% of all live births.
The average age of mothers is also creeping up. In 1973 it was 26.4 years, but by last year it was 29.8. Similarly, the average age of first birth has risen, from 26.8 in 2002 to 28.1 last year.
The ONS said there was a variety of possible reasons for the trend, including greater numbers of women going to university or prioritising having a career, the cost of bringing up a baby and “instability of partnerships”.
In 2012 almost half (49%) of the 729,674 live births were to women aged 30 or more, and 65% of fathers were in the same age category, excluding births where only the mother was registered.
Dr Michael Heard, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a consultant obstetrician in Hampshire, said the rise in mothers over 40 was not a surprise.
“All obstetricians are seeing a much greater trend towards older mums as women delay childbearing for various reasons, including the fact that effective contraception allows people to plan when they have their family and also because assisted fertilisation techniques can allow older women a better chance of conceiving,” he said.
But he said women who delayed childbearing – especially first-time motherhood until their 40s were at greater risk of not conceiving at all or of having a miscarriage. Recent ONS data shows that 10% of mothers aged 40 or over give birth prematurely, before 37 weeks, compared with 6.7% of mothers aged 25 to 29.