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Study Finds More Older Women are Having their First Child

Update Date: May 10, 2014 11:28 AM EDT
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The latest statistics compiled by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics revealed that more older women are becoming first time mothers. The report found that over the past four decades, the number of women giving birth to their first child at the age of 35 and above increased by more than nine times.

"The age at first birth is really a very important topic," Dr. Joanne Stone, director of maternal fetal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said reported by CBS News. "When a woman has her first child that can influence how many children she is going to have in the future. If you're 44 and this is your first baby, you may not have more children in the future. So it effects what's going to happen in the population, it affects the size of the population, the future growth of the population, as well as the composition of the population."

The researchers examined the trend from 1973 through to 2012. They reported that from 1973 to 2006, the rate of first births in women between the ages of 35 and 39 increased six times from 1.7 to 10.9 women per 1,000 women. From 2006 to 2010, the rate dropped slightly before increasing again in 2012. For the age group of 20 to 44, the first birth rate was stable from the 1970s through to the 1980s. From 1985 to 2012, the rate of first birth in older women soared from 0.5 to 2.3 women for every 1,000 women.

The increase in first birth rates for older women occurred in all races and ethnicities. For non-Hispanic white women, the number of women between the ages of 40 and 49 that had their first children increased by 130 percent between 1990 and 2012. The rate for non-Hispanic black women increased by 171 percent during the same time frame. In terms of region, the rate of first time mothers between the ages of 35 and 39 increased the most in the District of Columbia, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington state, and Wyoming. The rate of first time mothers aged 40 to 44 increased the most in the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Carolina.

"While most women do very well and have healthy children there definitely are some risks that are higher at 35 and above, which is what we typically call 'advanced maternal age,'" Dr. Stone said.

The researchers did not find out what factors are contributing to these increased rates. They reasoned that in modern day society, more women are focused on their careers first before they start a family.

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