BFS statement on new ONS statistics on maternal age

A new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales found there were 15.2 live births per 1,000 women aged 40 and over in 2015 compared to 14.5 for those aged under 20.

Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society said:

“These new statistics illustrate the fact that women are having babies later in life, a trend that has occurred over the last few decades.

“For a range of social, professional and financial reasons, women are starting families at an older age and this trend is unlikely to be reversed.

“As healthcare professionals, our role is to advise both men and women about the implications that maternal age can have for fertility, pregnancy and birth and enable couples to make informed decisions about when to plan a family.

“We know that female fertility starts to decline gradually from the late 20s and more rapidly from the mid-30s onwards. While the risks should never be overplayed, men and women should be aware that reproductive outcomes are poorer in older women. As well as it potentially taking longer to get pregnant, later maternity can involve a greater risk of miscarriage, a more complicated labour, and medical intervention at the birth.

“Although fertility rates for women aged 40 and above have been generally rising fast, this is contributed to by fertility treatments, and natural fertility among women in their 40s is still considerably lower than for women in their 30s. Furthermore, treatments such as IVF don’t work for everybody and success rates also decline with increasing female age.

“The British Fertility Society (BFS) is committed to raising awareness among young people around their reproductive health and has set up a new taskforce to ensure that the knowledge components of sex and relationship education not only cover how to avoid pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, but also include information about fertility to help people plan for their future.”

The latest statistics can be found here. (link