The average age of women giving birth in Canada was 29.7 years in 2004, a slight increase from 29.6 in 2003. This continues a long-established upward trend and we're asking what does it mean for children and for society to have older parents. We also look at the options healthy women are taking to delay pregnancy such as freezing their eggs.
Older Parents - Egg Freezing
We started this segment with a clip from Jocelyn Smith. She's a nurse at the LifeQuest Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Toronto. She has worked in the field of infertility for more than 25 years. And LifeQuest has just added a new service for its clients. The centre will freeze the eggs of women who are fertile, but don't want to have a baby just yet ... women who want to delay pregnancy in order to focus on their career or to find the right partner. So LifeQuest stores their eggs, and waits for them to come calling.
Egg freezing has been offered to cancer patients for some time -- because of the risk of infertility associated with some cancer treatments. But as more women wait longer to have children, a whole new market has opened up. Here's why.
A woman's fertility begins to decline slowly in her late 20s. Then it starts to decline more rapidly at around 35. And in addition to the decreased chance of getting pregnant, women over 35 have an increased risk of miscarriage and other complications. According to Health Canada, 91 per cent of women can get pregnant when they're 30. That drops to 77 per cent by age 35. And by age 40, only 53 per cent of women can get pregnant.
But when it comes to fertility, the age of a woman's eggs is more important than the age of her uterus, which is part of the reason Carolyn Lawrence has decided to freeze her eggs for future use. She's the President and CEO of Women of Influence Inc. It's an event and media organization dedicated to connecting and developing professional women in Canada. Carolyn Lawrence was in Toronto.
Older Parents - Panel
In 2004, the average age of a woman giving birth in Canada was 29.7 years. That's up slightly from 29.6 the year before. And it's part of a decades-long trend towards older parenthood. In 2005, nearly half of the women who gave birth were over 30. That's nearly two-and-a-half times as many 30-plus new mothers as in 1974.
As part of our project Shift, we wanted to look at the social implications of the increase in older mothers. Francoise Baylis is an ethicist and the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University. She was in Halifax.
And Karen Kobayashi is a sociology professor and a Research Affiliate at the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria. She was in Victoria.