Maternal age rising as birthrate declines, new data show

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Maternal age rising as birthrate declines, new data show

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The share of live births from American mothers over the age of 35 has risen by 4 percentage points since 2015, according to new data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new statistics show teenage pregnancy is continuing to decline and that more women are having children older, when there are greater odds of complications for maternal and neonatal health.


Women over 35 accounted for over 20% of 3.661 million births in 2022, compared to only 18.7% in 2019 and 16% in 2015. The total number of births to women over 35 is up by over 101,000 compared to 2015.

Over 605,000, or 16.5%, of live births in 2022 were to women between 35 and 39. In 2015, by contrast, only 13.3% of live births were to women in this age bracket.

The birthrate for women in their late 30s has tripled over the past 40 years. Women in their early 30s have also seen higher birthrates.

Birthrates for women in their prime reproductive years from 20 to 34 have not significantly decreased over the past four years, but the data confirm the observation that women are delaying starting families, possibly because of economic uncertainty and the growing need to establish a career before parenthood.

The dramatic increase in the cost of raising a child has not eased these burdens. The Brookings Institution estimated that in 2022, a middle-class family would spend $310,605 to raise a child born in 2015, an inflationary increase of over $26,000 compared to what the Department of Agriculture estimated in 2017.

While there are socioeconomic reasons for these decisions in family planning, any pregnancy is considered medically high risk for both mother and child if the mother is over 35.

A child conceived by a woman over 35 is at a higher risk for chromosomal abnormalities. The risk of Down syndrome, for example, in a child conceived when the mother is 40 is 1 in 100, compared to 1 in 2,500 for a woman aged 25, according to Stanford Medicine.


A mother’s risk for developing preeclampsia and gestational diabetes also significantly increases with age, as well as the risk for both miscarriage and stillbirths, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Last year, the median age for first-time motherhood increased to 30 years old, up from 27 years old in 1990.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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