One in five babies are now born to women over 35 as would-be parents feel pressure of high mortgages and debt.
One in five mothers is approaching middle age by the time she has a child, figures have revealed.
The boom in motherhood among older women means more than 140,000 babies were born to women of 35 or older last year - 20 per cent of all births in England and Wales.
The proportion of babies with mothers in their late 30s and older has gone up by a third in ten years as more women delay having families.
Fathers are also increasingly likely to be close to middle age when they are faced with bringing up young children. The latest count showed that two thirds of new fathers are over 30.
The breakdown from the Office for National Statistics raised new questions over the trend for parents to be older and its impact on the health and upbringing of children.
Medical authorities say there are greater risks for mothers and babies when mothers are over 35, and older parents face a greater chance of ill-health or disability while their children are still young.
Numbers of older mothers have been shooting up in recent years, partly because more women are choosing education and careers over early marriage and family, and partly because many reach their 30s burdened with high mortgages, debt, and living costs that encourages them to postpone having children.
The trend to co-habitation rather than marriage also means many women are unwilling to have children while they are uncertain about the degree of commitment of their partner.
The new figures showed that 141,246 babies were born to mothers over the age of 35 last year, a fifth of the 706,248 births in England and Wales.
Of these, nearly 27,000 were born to mothers over 40; nearly 1,500 to mothers over 45, and 89 to women over the age of 50. In 1999, only 15 per cent of newborn babies had mothers over 35.
There have been a series of warning to older mothers about the risks of having children later in life.
Earlier this year Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists President Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran said: 'Later pregnancy is associated with more complications and specialised obstetric help is required to care for this growing group of women.'
2010-10-25 22:41 编辑：kuaileyingyu
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