Friday, August 14, 2009

More Women Opting to Have Their First Child Later in Life

The number of women who are choosing to wait until they are older to start their families has been on the rise over the past three and a half decades. The average age of first-time mothers has increased by 3.6 years over last 36 years, from the age of 21.4 years in 1970 to the age of 25 in 2006.

Researchers T.J. Mathews and Brady E. Hamilton of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, Reproductive Statistics Branch, analyzed data from the birth data set to derive the new information. The birth data set is primarily used for analyzing U.S. birth trends and patterns, and is a part of the National Vital Statistics System that contains information on reported live births in the U.S.

The researchers were interested in pinning down the average age of first-time mothers since the age of a woman’s first birth has a bearing on the total number of births she may have within her lifetime. In turn, this has an impact on family size and future increase in the overall population. In addition, a mother’s age, whether younger or older has an effect on outcomes of births including birth weight, multiple births, and birth defects.

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