Should a woman in her 50s be supported in her choice to get pregnant?
People delay starting a family for many reasons, which in include finding the right partner, career aspiration and a desire for economic success/stability. While biologically (and there is controversy over the exact age) women are most fertile between 20-25 years of age, this does not mean women in this age bracket feel socially and financially prepared to start a family.
Due to the current economic climate many in their 20s in the United States are living at home, face high rates of unemployment and are delaying both marriage and children. "According to an analysis of census data...women with professional degrees who had their first child at 20 earned $50,000 less per year than those who had their first child at 35..[and] 35 percent of female executives delayed having children." "The age of first motherhood is rising all over the West. In Italy, Germany , and Great Britain, it's 30. In the U.S., it's gone up to 25 from 21 since 1970, and in New York State, it's even higher, at 27."
With facts like this, it isn't surprising women are delaying motherhood. But even though we understand why women are delaying motherhood, is there an age limit on it?
People have very strong social opinions on the topic, which range from possible health issues (pre-term labor leading to preemie's, increased likelihood of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes etc for mothers over 35 years of age) to the life span and maternal investment/abilities of an older mother (mortality when your child is younger, lack of grandparents and intergenerational relationships, etc). The idea of it being "unnatural" is also often used as an argument.
In spite of these factors and beliefs, older mothers are becoming more and more common.
n 2008, the most recent year for which detailed data are available, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45 or older, more than double the number in 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Five hundred and forty-one of these were born to women age 50 or older—a 375 percent increase. In adoption, the story is the same. Nearly a quarter of adopted children in the U.S. have parents more than 45 years older than they are." These mothers also tend to be more affluent. "People--straight or gay; married, partnered, or single--who have babies at 50 are often wealthy. The average egg-donor cycle costs $25,000, but the cost can run as high as $35,000 for the eggs of an elite, Ivy-educated girl. A surrogate costs as much as $110,000, which insurance often does not cover. Adoption, depending on how you do it, costs between $20,000 and $40,000 out of pocket"
Studies have also supported that because these parents have so active sought this role and have the disposable income, the children even have higher rates of success. "They found that the IVF kids scored better overall and in every category of test--- reading, math, and language skills. and they found that the older the mother, the better the kid performed."
It isn't every day you see an image such as the one found on the cover of New York Magazine, but is it an image we are going to be seeing a lot more of?
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