The risks of a “career first, family later” mentality

April 22, 2010 | NeW Staff

We hear on a regular basis that women are having children at a later age.  These women have spent their 20s pursuing higher education, developing their careers and do not consider having a family until their 30s or even 40s in some cases.  The media pushes women to do these things and disregards the risks to women from having children at a later age.  After all, with the rapid expansion of fertility treatments, who’s to say a woman can’t get pregnant at any age? 

Unfortunately, the problem with this thinking is that it completely disregards the serious risks involved with pregnancies at later stages in life.  A CNN article today outlined some of the scary facts:

1. Higher risk of miscarriage
At age 20: 1 in 10 women
At age 35: 1 in 5 women
At age 40: 1 in 3 women
At age 45: 1 in 2 women

2. Higher risk of any chromosomal disorder
At age 20: 1 in 526 births
At age 30: 1 in 385 births
At age 40: 1 in 66 births
At age 45: 1 in 21 births

3. Higher risk of Down syndrome
At age 25: 1 in 1,250 births
At age 30: 1 in 1,000 births
At age 35: 1 in 400 births
At age 40: 1 in 100 births
At age 45: 1 in 30 births
At age 49: 1 in 10 births

4. Higher risk of gestational diabetes
At age 20: 22 in 1,000 women
At age 25: 36 in 1,000 women
At age 30: 51 in 1,000 women
At age 35: 67 in 1,000 women
At age 40: 84 in 1,000 women

5. Higher risk of preeclampsia
At age 20: 38 in 1,000 women
At age 25: 37 in 1,000 women
At age 30: 36 in 1,000 women
At age 35: 39 in 1,000 women
At age 40: 48 in 1,000 women

To downplay these risks is simply irresponsible.  Women should take it upon themselves to know and understand the consequences of the decisions they make, including decisions about when to have a baby.  If a woman wants to have children later in life, no one is saying she cannot.  However, to make this decision without considering ALL factors will only cause stress and heartache later on. 

Feminists want women to believe that if you want a family, the best time is to wait until you have your career path firmly established and have made significant climbs up the corporate ladder.  However, based on the numbers, that just is not the case.  While statistics show women who wait to have children typically are more financially stable, having children later greatly increases the chances of compromising the woman’s and/or baby’s health. 

What do you think?  When is the ideal time to have kids? Is there ever an ideal time to start a family? 

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