Finally, positive attention is being paid to the aging woman. Women in their 40s look better, feel better, have successful careers and seem to be able to do it all. In fact, it has been suggested that life for a woman really begins at age 40. For once, the “mature” woman is being celebrated rather than lamented. 40 is the new 30!
…But is it really?
In January 2016, the CDC released National Vital Statistics System data on U.S. Births from 2000-2014. In this report, a few important statistics stood out. First, the mean age of a woman having her first child rose to 26.3 in 2014 (up from 24.9 years in 2000). In addition, during this time period, first births to women aged 30-34 rose 28 percent and first births to women aged 35 and over rose 23 percent. Although the number of births to women after age 40 was unchanged from 2013, the birth rate for women aged 40-44 has consistently risen over the last 30 years. Finally, the number of births in women aged 45-49 increased by 3 percent in 2014.
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy. In her role as a physician caring for high-risk pregnancies, she has counseled and treated hundreds of women over the years in her very own situation, and has found a whole new respect for the challenges and complications a woman may experience when trying to have a baby later in life.
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