“This is a good article about why, in terms of fertility, it is not a wise
idea to wait,” wrote a commenter in response to The Ideal Age to Have a Baby
. However, a new study shows that the likelihood of having a baby after 40 is quite good. Yes, you can reverse your biological clock.
For so many reasons, we all can’t—and don’t—have our babies in our 20s and early 30s. In response to my post, 40 is the New 20 for Having Babies, here is one of several similar comments that explain why many of us come to motherhood later:
“I think everyone’s situation is unique. I think if I had a time machine and could have met my husband when I was in my mid to late 20's, we would have had 2-3 children by the time I was 35. But life doesn't work that way. I am so blessed to have our son and yes even at 41 we are considering another child probably also requiring ivf.”
Good news for having a baby after age 40
In vitro fertilization (IVF), among other techniques for dealing with problems older women face, has been able to stretch the beginning of motherhood for so many. A new study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that in spite of nonviable eggs of her own, a woman in her 30s or in her 40s who uses donated eggs from a younger woman has the same chances of having a baby as a woman in her 20s.
Barbara Luke, Sc.D., M.P.H., Professor of Obstetrics Gynecology & Reproductive Biology at Michigan State University and her colleagues followed almost 250,000 women of different ages (from under 30 to over 43) who used multiple cycles of IVF to find out the likelihood of their having babies. The researchers analyzed data for the years 2004 through 2009 from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcome Reporting System to estimate live-birth rates. The data represents over 90 percent of the clinics performing Assisted Reproductive Treatments throughout the United States.
Although the type of embryos transferred varied, the authors of the study concluded: Women in their 40s have the same chances of having a baby as women in their 20s.
Donated Eggs: A Gift
In many ways, using donated eggs can be like adopting a child; the child is not genetically related to the mother (and sometimes the father as well). A woman using donated eggs should be aware of and accepting of this fact. Some are not. Carolyn, a subject in a study that was the basis for my book, The Case for the Only Child, considered the ramifications of using donor eggs. Egg donation raised doubts for Carolyn who had frozen embryos waiting that were created with her husband’s sperm and a younger friend’s eggs.
“These eggs are a gift and our only option for a second child,” explains 42-year-old Carolyn, but she resists using them. “You take a leap of faith when you use someone else’s egg,” she says. “How smart will this child be? How healthy? What I really worry about is if I will feel that the baby is mine. As much as I would like my son to have a sibling, I don’t think I can do this.”
As resistant as Carolyn is, many “older” women embrace the chance to have a baby. For them, it could be that carrying the baby creates a strong gestational bond that outweighs Carolyn’s concern about the lack of (maternal) genetic connection.
References and Additional Reading:
Luke, Barbara, Brown, Morton B., Wantman, Ethan, Lederman, Avi, Gibbons, William, Schattman, Glenn L., Lobo, Rogerio A., Leach, Richard E., and Stern, Judy E. “Cumulative Birth Rates with Linked Assisted Reproductive Technology Cycles.” New England Journal of Medicine. 6/28/2012, Vol. 366 Issue 26, pp. 2483-2491.
Newman, Susan. “Embryo Donation for Octuplet Mom.” Psychology Today, February 28, 2009. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/singletons/200902/embryo-donation-octuplet-mom
Newman, Susan. “Why More People Don’t Adopt.” Psychology Today, October 25, 2008. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/singletons/200810/why-more-people-don-t-adopt