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Sen. Tammy Duckworth Joins the Growing List of Women Having Babies in Their Forties

February 22, 2018
Katie Visco

Sen. Duckworth is the first U.S. senator to have a baby while serving

The Democratic senator from Illinois is having a baby at 49 years old. This will be her second child. Nowadays, it has become more common for women her age to conceive a child.

  • In 2016, the percentage of women who have ever given birth was higher than it was ten years earlier.
  • In a way, the country's fertile and business cycles are interrelated.
  • Chances of health complications for your baby increase as you grow older.

These older women are reversing a 40-year-old trend

According to a research study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 86% of women ages 40 to 44 were recorded to have been mothers in 2016, whereas only 80% of women in this age group had children back in 2006. "Not only are women more likely to be mothers than in the past, but they are having more children," the report said. One interesting statistic that the report found was that most women in this age group who have never married have still had a baby. There has been a rise in women who have never wed by the end of their childbearing years. Among them, a majority have at least one child.  

The economy may be related to the rise and fall of birth rates

"The Great Recession intensified this shift toward later motherhood, which has been driven in the longer term by increases in educational attainment and women's labor force participation, as well as delays in marriage," said the Pew report. "Given these social and cultural shifts, it seems likely that the postponement of childbearing will continue." In terms of why women may wait to have children, one reason is that their desire to focus on their career. Also, houses are expensive, and couples are inclined to wait and save for a down payment before starting a family. Senator Duckworth herself wrote on Twitter that, "I'm hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my daughter Abigail has only made me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hard-working families everywhere."

There are health risks that come along with having a baby later in life

The chances of having a baby with Down Syndrome increase from 1 in 100 at age 40 to 1 in 30 at age 45. Mothers who give birth in their 40s also have a higher chance of having to go through C-sections because of complications, low birth weight, and stillborn babies. According to the Mayo Clinic, women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy if they conceive after they are 35. It is important to note that you are not alone if you decide to have a child at a later age. There are plenty of resources available to help you. Don't be afraid to reach out to your physician if you have any questions or concerns regarding your pregnancy.

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