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More Women Delaying First Pregnancy: CDC

First births to women 35 and older have increased dramatically over last 40 years
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On a positive note, Elizabeth Gregory, director of the women's gender and sexuality studies program at the University of Houston, thinks children of relatively older parents probably fare better. "For kids getting more mature and more educated parents, there are demonstrable outcomes, such as living at a higher economic level," she said.

Gregory, who has written a book on the benefits of later motherhood, noted that for each year of delay a college graduate makes, she will be likely to earn more. "On average, her long-term salary will increase, so over her career her salary will be twice what it would have been if she'd started at 22. [She can expect] about a 12 percent gain in long-term salary per year [of delaying pregnancy]," she said.

Key findings of the data analysis include:

  • For women 35 to 39, first birth rates rose sixfold from 1973 to 2006 (from 1.7 to 10.9 per 1,000 women).
  • For women 40 to 44, the rate increased more than fourfold from 1985 through 2012.
  • First birth rates rose among older women of all races and origins. Among those 40 to 44, increases in first birth rates rose 171 percent among blacks and 130 percent among whites.
  • For Asian/Pacific Islanders in both age ranges, the rate of first birth in 2012 was almost double that of the next highest group. "They're having first births at an older age than other population groups," noted Mathews.

There were, however, geographical variations.

Some states saw a greater increase in first births among older women. For example, the first birth rate for women 35 to 39 in Washington D.C., New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming rose at least 40 percent from 2000 to 2012.

During the same time period, the first birth rate for women 35 to 39 increased 30 to almost 40 percent in nine states, according to the report. Only four states saw no increase in first births among this age group: Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

And the first birth rate for women aged 40 to 44 rose at least 60 percent in Washington, D.C., Minnesota, Nebraska and South Carolina from 2000 to 2012, the investigators found.

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