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Record births for women over 40

Benefits and drawbacks for over-40 pregnancies

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2012 was a record year for births to women over the age of 40.

According to Statens Seruminstitut statistics, some 1,909 babies were born to mothers in the 40 to 45 year age group, and 100 babies born to mothers over the age of 45, all in all a doubling of over 40’s pregnancies in the past 20 years, according to Kristeligt Dagblad.

“Our society has changed a lot,” says Karin Erb, Chief Biologist at Odense University Hospital and Chairwoman of the Danish Fertility Association.

“We are getting older and older and more and more healthy. We see ourselves as 10 years younger – our social age has changed – but our biology hasn’t,” she says.

Erb says that the figures notwithstanding, chances of becoming pregnant are minimal for the over-40’s.

“Many of these children are probably conceived as a result of artificial insemination. When women over 40 come to us, they think that we can do all sorts of things, but the chances of becoming pregnant are under 10 per cent,” Erb tells Kristeligt Dagblad.

The national health system is only permitted to offer artificial insemination to women until their 41st birthday, after which they must seek insemination from private clinics, where treatment is permitted until their 46th birthday.

Mogens Nygaard Christoffersen, a senior family researcher at the National Welfare Centre says that the increase in numbers may have to do with the financial crisis.

“The crisis affects young people starting their families. The labour market is uncertain and pregnancies are put off. Those who are over 35 are more established, and not as vulnerable as young people,” Nygaard Christoffersen says.

District Nurse and Health Science Ph.D. Else Guldager says that over-40 parents are no better or worse at being parents than younger people.

“But you are more sensitive to not sleeping at night, you don’t have the unconcerned nature of youth and statistically, children of older parents lose them earlier than those who became parents in their 20s,” Guldager says.

“On the other hand many older parents are calmer, more tolerant and don’t have as hectic a lifestyle as younger parents because they have got over their education and the time when they have to begin their careers,” she says.

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