The latest ONS population report has revealed that, compared to their mum’s generation, 164% more women over 40 and 500% more over-45s are having children. While prospects have improved, planning for a family later in life needs increased testing to ensure the best outcome, says expert.
The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) childbirth figures confirm we are in the middle of a generational lifestyle change, says the leading blood testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD.
‘Half of all women born in 1990 had not had children by the time they reached their 30th birthday, marking the first generation on record where 50% remained childless by that age,’ says Dr Fivelman, the Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory. ’The changes don’t stop there: 29 in every 1,000 40-year-olds gave birth, compared to just 11 in every 1,000 in their parents’ generation – a 164% increase.
‘For those women born in 1975, six in every thousand aged 45 and over successfully gave birth, a 500% increase over women born in their mothers’ generation. For women born in 1949, just one 45-year-old in every 1,000 gave birth.
‘The most common age for women born in 1975 to have a child was 31, a massive change compared with age 22 for their mothers’ generation.
‘As careers and lifestyle choices have evolved, women have altered their goals. Just 3.2% of women born in 2000 opted to have a child at the age of 20. That’s a significant drop compared to women born just a decade earlier; 6% of those born in 1990 had a baby at that age.
‘London Medical Laboratory’s own figures shed even more light on this transformation. Our research shows the number of first-time births among women aged 40 to 44 more than doubling from 1990.
‘There are many reasons why women told us they want to have kids later in life:
- They were concentrating on their careers when they were younger with many more women attending university
- They settled down later in life
- They are now in a better financial situation
- They have new, stable relationships
- They had fertility treatments
- They wish to travel more before making the decision
‘There’s no doubt having a child later in life can be very positive for both mother and baby. Women who have children later tend to have a longer life span, while their children tend to perform better in education, achieving higher test scores and graduation rates.
‘There are, however, a number of other, potential increased risks to keep in mind including:
- High blood pressure — this may increase your risk of the pregnancy complication preeclampsia
- Gestational diabetes
‘These can be picked up in blood tests and routine antenatal checks.
‘It also gets harder to conceive, which is why fertility hormone blood tests are vital for informing you of your overall health and fertility. A hormone and fertility blood test will measure levels of key hormones such as:
- Oestradiol — Oestradiol tests are used for the evaluation of ovarian functions
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) — stimulates the growth and development of unfertilised eggs during the menstrual cycle in women
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH) — regulates the menstrual cycle and ovulation by stimulating the ovaries to produce other reproductive hormones
- Prolactin — promotes lactation (breast milk production) in women during pregnancy and after childbirth
‘The option to have children later in life is hugely liberating for women and the latest ONS figures reveal many are now choosing to have children in their thirties or forties. However, the longer you leave it, the more hormone and fertility checks become advisable as a part of your family planning process.
‘The new generation Female Hormones and Fertility blood test is highly accurate, and quick and simple to carry out, either at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test. It takes around five minutes, with results usually emailed the next day. For full details, see https://www.londonmedicallaboratory.com/product/female-hormone-profile
Image: Hormone and fertility testing can be done at home using a kit such as the one pictured, or at a drop in centre. Credit: London Medical Laboratory