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Women are having fewer babies than ever before — except, surprisingly, those in their 40s.
The number of births in the US last year to women of any age was roughly 3.8 million, down 2 percent from 2016, and a record low, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest birth statistics released Thursday.
“At the rate we’re going, we’re going to have a shrinking population,” says Dr. Alan Copperman, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who was not associated with the CDC report.
But the study found that while birth rates declined for all age groups of women under 40 years — including teen births — birth rates actually rose for women in their 40s. Births to women between the ages of 45 to 49 increased 3 percent compared to 2016, and births to women ages 40 through 44 increased about 1 percent, according to the study.
The increase seems to be a sign that fertility treatments for women older than 40 is becoming more mainstream, says Copperman, also the co-director of the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York.
“This isn’t biology changing — this is reproductive technology changing,” he says.
Advances in in vitro fertilization and egg-freezing, he says, have made it more possible for women over 40 to conceive. Companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google are starting to offer fertility benefits to help pay for the pricey procedures.
“Just as women are making professional strides, the opportunity for them to become moms later in life has fortunately started to improve,” he says.
Meanwhile, Dr. Carly Snyder, an Upper East Side reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist, says that the decline in births for younger women may be thanks to another positive societal shift.
“There’s an increasing understanding that not everyone wants to be a parent,” says Snyder. “In the past, that was so stigmatized, especially for women. Now, there’s this movement of ‘I don’t want to have kids’ and that’s OK.”
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