Carol - posted on 05/03/2011 ( 4 moms have responded )
I had my latest at 42, with no problems, but I do wonder how it would have been different if I'd had my kids in my 20s. Would I have more energy? Would they somehow be better off with a younger mother?
In light of news that French first lady Carla Bruni is pregnant at 43, here are some interesting facts I found around the trend of giving birth after age 40:
Who gets pregnant at age 40 or over? Typically, it's married, educated women using donated eggs.
1. In the EU, where French first lady Carla Bruni lives, the percentage of births to mothers age 40 and over has nearly doubled since the late 1980s, from 1.6 percent to 3 percent.
"Fertility rates have increased due to fertility treatments," says women's health educator Toni Weschler, the author of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. "More and more women over 40 can get pregnant now, but those statistics are misleading, because they're able to conceive only because of science. It's no easier now than ever to get pregnant over 40 naturally.”
F.C. Billari, et al. Social age deadlines for the childbearing of women and men. Human Reproduction (2011): 26 (3), 616-22.
2. More women age 40 and older have given birth in Italy, Bruni's native country, than in any other Western industrialized nation; 4 percent of births in Italy are to women over 40, compared to 2.6 percent in the U.S. and 2.2 percent in the Netherlands.
"Potentially it's because in a Catholic country such as Italy, they're less likely to use birth control," muses Weschler. "In a Catholic country, they might say, 'Let's leave it to God,' whereas women over 40 in the United States wouldn't so likely take that chance."
F.C. Billari, et al. Pushing the limit: Long-term trends in late fertility in Sweden. Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, working paper, 2007. (pdf)
3. In the U.S., the birth rate among women age 40 to 44 increased 6 percent between 2007 and 2009.
And older women comprise the only age group whose birth rate is now on the rise in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control researchers who conducted the study that yielded this statistic. The birth rate among women age 50 and older rose by 4 percent between 2008 and 2009.
Brady E. Hamilton, et al. National Vital Statistics Reports, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010): 59 (3) (pdf)
4. One-fourth of women who gave birth at age 40 or older say they feel self-conscious around other moms because of their age.
"The reality is that it's not easy being an older parent," says registered nurse Tori Kropp, author of The Joy of Pregnancy: The Complete, Candid and Reassuring Companion for Parents-to-Be. "It sounds like a great idea at first, but suddenly you're 50 and have 5-year-old twins. It can quite simply be an energy factor. Of course, there are plenty of parents who kick the soccer ball and coach the baseball team, but the older mother becomes less and less likely to crawl on the floor with the baby. Parenting is a rough road for for the older parent who has less flexibility."