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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 08:30 GMT
Late birth more common
Scan
The number of late births is increasing
Increasing numbers of British women are giving birth over the age of 40, official statistics show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of women giving birth over the age of 40 has almost doubled in 10 years.

It is thought that increasing numbers of women are opting to develop their careers before having children.


the popular misconception that a woman's fertility suddenly drops off the edge of a cliff when she reaches 35 is greatly exaggerated

Family Planning Association
The figures show that 17,000 women over 40 conceived in 2000, compared with 16,000 in 1999 and just 9,220 in 1990 in England and Wales.

During the 1990s the conception rate among women aged 40 to 44 rose at a greater rate than for any other age group.

However, just 2% of the total number of live births are to women over the age of 40.

Younger women

The number of women aged 35 to 39 who give birth has also increased sharply, by 27% over the past decade.

But among women under the age of 30, the conception rate fell steeply.

A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association said: "Nowadays there are lots of positive role models of older mothers, women like Cherie Blair who are able to combine motherhood with a career.

"The figures also show that the popular misconception that a woman's fertility suddenly drops off the edge of a cliff when she reaches 35 is greatly exaggerated."

However, later pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of foetal abnormality.

The changes of having a Down's syndrome child are one in 100 for a woman of 40, ad one in 20 for a woman of 45.

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Health
Teenage pregnancies fall again
22 Feb 02 | Health
Surprise births not uncommon
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