According to a study by the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED), more and more women give birth after forty years in France. This trend affects all rich countries.
In the industrialized countries, women are having children later and later. As a result, the number of mothers for the first time over the age of 40 is also increasing, according to a study by the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED). Late pregnancies were already quite frequent until the middle of the 20th century.
"Large families were common, and many women continued to have children until they could no longer conceive," say Éva Beaujouan and Tomas Sobotka, the authors of the study. In 1946, 4.36% of women who gave birth were over 40 years old. This rate dropped significantly in the 1980s, reaching only 0.86%. In 2016, it was 4.24%.
A trend observed in rich countries
The number of late pregnancies is increasing not only in France. In Europe, it is the southern countries that are the most concerned: in Italy and Spain, the pregnancy rate among women over the age of 40 reached 6% in 2014. More generally, rich countries around the world observe the same growth, such as Japan, the United States, Russia or Australia.
INED researchers explain it as follows: "This results from a combination of factors such as the lengthening of studies, changes in the status of women, changes in the life of a couple (late union , more frequent breaks in union, re-pairing to form a second union later in life), the growing economic uncertainty among young adults, ... ".
Risks and benefits of late pregnancy
Sometimes having your first child over forty is frowned upon because it involves real risks. The rate of miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities is higher. During pregnancy, a woman over the age of forty is also more prone to certain complications, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems or uterine bleeding.
This entails risks for the baby. In contrast, late pregnancies also have some benefits. "Older parents can offer a higher standard of living and increased family stability to their children, improving their chances in life," the researchers say.