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Computer calculates best age to have babies

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Written by SCalafiore
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Photo: ‘Baby portraits – 10 days old’ via Randi Deuro (Flickr)

Want three kids? International research says you may be approaching the best age to start.

Jessica Moulton, 22, plans to start a family of three or more children at 30, but according to a new computer model she should get started next year.

International researchers have devised a mathematical model that can predict the age a woman should have her first child based on desired family size.

The calculator, the first to be used in family planning, simulated 10,000 couples’ success at having one-, two- and three-child families from different ages.

These were the results:

Graph - Baby

Table of results from the “Realizing a desired family size: when should couples start?” study

 

Young women may be surprised to discover a 90 per cent chance of having a two-child family requires starting as early as 27. With IVF, the age only increases by four years.

The latest female age at which a couple should start trying to become pregnant depends on the importance attached to achieving a desired family size and whether or not IVF is an acceptable option, according to the study.

Lead researcher from Erasmus University Medical Center in The Netherlands, Dr Dik Habbema, said the results would help couples become better informed.

“From the point of view of sound decision-making, couples need to have insight into the probability of having the number of children that they would ideally like to have,” he said.

The results suggest the best way for women to achieve their desired family size is to start in their 20s.

Biology versus society

Miss Moulton, a nutrition and commerce student, is like many women in their most fertile years who want to complete their studies, have a stable income, travel and find a life partner before parenthood.

“I want to do everything in my 20s while I can,” Miss Moulton said. “I don’t want to start to have kids until I’ve been working for a couple of years.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says the median age for Australian mothers to have their first child is 28.9 and women within the age bracket of 35 to 39 are having more children than those in their early 20s, despite a significant decline in fertility.

Miss Moulton said many women her age fail to associate their own fertility with having children.

“They may be thinking about having children at some stage but they are not really thinking about the processes of becoming pregnant and the fact that fertility might play a part in that.”

Miss Moulton is confident she will have her three-child family after 30 despite the results from the study and her ticking biological clock.

“I know this is a Generation Y attitude but now that I know IVF is an option I’m overly optimistic that if you do really want kids technology is so good these day you can give it your best shot at any age.”

The study hopes to raise public awareness on the possibilities and limitations of human reproduction and Miss Moulton agrees the calculator will force women to think twice.

“[The computer model] definitely puts the pressure on to have children younger but I wouldn’t have a child unless I was ready.”

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