According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a trend has emerged for women putting off childbirth into their 40s and many in their mid-to-late 40s. Experts cite several reasons for the development, but improved access to assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a key factor.
A CDC report released on June 1 shows that births have risen by 6% for women ages 40 to 44 since 2021. That amounts to a 4% overall increase in the birth rate for that age group. However, among women 45 and older, births have increased by a staggering 12% since 2015.
What factors contribute to the increase?
Experts say fertility will always decline with age, meaning many need help to get pregnant. Advances in ART, primarily in vitro fertilization (IVF), don’t account for the rise in the number of births, but rather that more women are turning to assisted reproduction to conceive.
The data bears that out. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology says the IVF success rate for women 38 to 40 is 25%, 13% for women 41 to 42 and only 4% for those over 42. Those statistics haven’t changed for a long time.
What has changed are the priorities for many couples and individuals. The Pew Research Center shares data showing family planning is tied to economic stability for many. For example, more women now enter higher education than men and take on more student loan debt. Many put off having a family until they are in a better financial situation.
Access and higher incomes are also factors
IVF isn’t cheap, with one cycle averaging between $10,000 and $15,000. While the cost hasn’t dropped over the years, more people can afford the treatment, which is widely available in most metropolitan areas. Insurance coverage is getting better. Twenty-one states now mandate fertility insurance. Minnesota isn’t one of them, but some employers have added fertility to their plans to attract and keep good employees.
Considering ART? Don’t forget the legal side
If you are considering ART for family-building, it’s crucial to understand the legal side of assisted reproduction as well as the medical and financial side of the equation. That’s especially true when sperm, egg or embryo donation is involved, a surrogate contract is necessary or when same-sex couples decide to build their family.
Serious concerns over parentage and other issues need to be addressed due to severe gaps in the law regarding assisted reproduction. Working with a lawyer with decades of experience in this area can help you identify potential red flags, minimize risks, help you sort through your options and allow you to focus on growing your family.