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Research shows women having babies later in life

5:27 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Centers for Disease Control says one in five women now wait until they're 35 or older to have their first child.

It's a decision that often comes with anxiety about the ticking of their biological clock.

Psychologist Jean Twenge, a Winona native, made headlines this summer when her research contended women in their late 30s have more time than they think.

Twenge, now based in San Diego, married for the second time in her thirties and became worried about her fertility.

"So I was about 34 when we first decided we wanted to start a family. We knew we wanted at least two children," said Twenge. "When we were trying for our second and I was 37. I was really, really scared that we had waited too long and we would not be able to have another child."

So Twenge set out to find the facts behind fertility after age 35, and what she found filled a book, called "The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant."

"I saw a statistic over and over in books and online that said 1 out of 3 over 35 would not get pregnant after a year of trying. I found the original research article, published in a journal called Human Reproduction," said Twenge. "That statistic comes from a study of birth records from 1700s France. These birth records which are hundreds and hundreds of years old."

The find became a widely discussed article published this summer in The Atlantic magazine. Twenge wrote, "Millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics or fertility treatment."

Twenge says more recent studies provide more hope to women conceiving later.

"As I was writing the article, there were more research articles and studies coming out," she said. "The statistics were much more encouraging. It was like 80 percent or more women in late 30s able to get pregnant after a year."

Twenge says a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2004 by David Dunson of Duke University tracked 770 European women. It found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35 to 39 year old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27 to 34 year olds.

She points to another study released March 2013 in Fertility and Sterility. Kenneth Rothman of Boston University followed nearly 3,000 Danish women as they tried to get pregnant where 78 percent of 35 to 40 year olds got pregnant within a year.

Lastly, Twenge says a study headed by University of North Carolina School of Medicine Professor Anne Steiner, found that among 38 and 39 year olds who had been pregnant before, 80 percent of Caucasian women of normal weight got pregnant naturally within six months.

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