More U.S. women waiting longer to become mothers

By Michelle Anderson • Published: December 16th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

America’s first-time moms are getting older.

The average age of women giving birth for the first time has risen dramatically, a new study shows.

The rise is due largely to more women waiting until age thirty-five or older to start families, according to researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics.

The researchers studied US birth trends from 1970 through 2006.

During that time, they found, the average age of women giving birth for the first time rose from twenty-one years, four months to twenty-five years.

In 1970, just one birth in one hundred was to a woman thirty-five or older. By 2006, that ratio was one in twelve.

Even with the trend toward more mature moms, the United States still has the youngest first-time mothers among developed nations the researchers reviewed.

In those nations, the average woman is nearly thirty when she has her first baby.

The older-mother trend held true for all of the US, but the researchers did spot some differences.

The age jump was biggest in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The smallest increases were in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Mississippi.

Asian or Pacific Islander women have the highest age for first-time births; American Indian and Alaska Native women have the lowest.

The researchers made no judgment about when women should give birth, but said statistics help them predict trends in population, birth weight and birth defects.

Though it remains to be seen, the next study may not prove as dramatic. The ages of first-time mothers from 2006 to 2007 weren’t noticeably different.