In Great Britain, according to a new set of statistics released May 24, 2010, despite a dip in overall birth rates, births to women aged 40 and over have almost tripled in the past 20 years—rising from rising 9,336 live births in 1989 to 26, 976 in 2009. Likewise, births to women in the next older age bracket (35 to 39), rose 41 percent from 1989 to 2009. An April 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control showed similar birth rates in the US, with the birth rate for women in their early 40s rising a surprising 4 percent from 2007 to 2008.
New statistics on older moms are encouraging, but what they don't reveal, fertility experts caution, is what lengths these women had to go through in order to become pregnant.
"When you look at the numbers in terms of women and their fertility, there is no question it declines as they get older. We're meant to reproduce in our early 20s. So, when you look at women in the 20 to 24 age group, only 7 percent will be infertile. When you go up over 40, that number approaches 30 percent. That's because the quality of their eggs goes down and the number of their eggs goes down," says Dr. Jennifer Ashton, OB-GYN and medical correspondant with CBS News.
Natural pregnancy is still a possibility for women in their 40s, but fertility treatment is more likely among moms in this age group. Celine Dion has been upfront about her own fertility struggles—her current pregnancy is the result of her fifth round of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.