British mothers over 45 triple in a decade

In Great Britain the number of women having babies over the age of 45 has more than tripled in just over a decade as couples delay having children for career and financial reasons, according to official figures.
A new analysis of birth records for 2011 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows a major shift towards women having babies later in life, with even mothers in their early 20s becoming increasingly rare.

They show that less a quarter of births England and Wales in 2011 involved mothers under the age of 25 – half the proportion seen in 1970 and the lowest level since records began in 1938.

At the same time women over the age of 35 accounted for a fifth of the total in maternity wards, almost four times as many as in 1977, while those having babies over the age of 45 dramatically higher than a generation ago.

This entry was posted on December 15, 2015.

Understanding Epigenetics

Epigenetics is a relatively new science that studies the changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than changing the genetic code itself. The word epigenetics is of Green origin. “Epi” stands for “in addition to” genetics.

Did you ever notice that identical twins appear the same at birth, but by adulthood, they may be very different. That’s because of epigenetics. While they have identical genetics, they have changes in the expression of those genes.

This is a branch of science that has a lot of significance for pregnancies, especially those using donor eggs or sperm. Why is that? Because epigenetics looks at the way environmental factors can affect the growing fetus at the millions of areas on those genes. Think of epigenetics like using a highlighter to mark some areas, telling them to turn on, and other areas, turning them off. There are different types of epigenetic marks, and each one tells the proteins in the cell to process those parts of the DNA in certain biochemical ways. The gene sequence, the body’s instruction manual, hasn’t changed, but the expression of those genes has because only certain parts of that manual are being utilized by the cells.

Even though every cell in your body starts off with the same DNA sequence, the areas which are turned off and on are different in different types of cell – a skin cell doesn’t need to follow the same parts of the instruction manual as a liver cell. But the really interesting thing about epigenetics is that the marks aren’t fixed in the same way the DNA sequence is: some of them can change throughout your lifetime, and in response to outside influences. Some can even be inherited. This is called transgenerational epigenetics, another very interesting topic in and of itself.

Lifestyle factors might play a part in the genetic health of babies, and their babies. The beneficial effects of exercise have been known for generations, but the mechanisms are still surprisingly hazy. However, there’s mounting evidence that changes to the pattern of epigenetic markers in muscle and fatty tissues are involved. Since IVF treatment is a particularly conscious form of conception, epigenetics is highly relevant. IVF patients are, after all, uniquely motivated and anxious to achieve a pregnancy. Lifestyle changes? They’ll do them if it helps. The battle against negative epigenetics could start with fertility patients.

People receiving donated eggs and sperm have traditionally resigned themselves to the fact that their babies would not take after them. But that’s not quite true thanks to epigenetics. The uterine environment, stress levels, diet during pregnancy and other lifestyle factors may influence the way your baby’s genes are expressed. If you have a donor-egg or sperm child, it could mean your baby may take after you, after all.

2013 US Births to Women 50+ Years of Age

Women aged 50 and over—There were 677 births to women aged 50 and over in 2013, up from 600 in 2012 (Tables 2 and 6) (14). The number of births to women in this age group has generally increased since 1997 (144), when data for women aged 50 and over became available again. The birth rate for women aged 50–54 was 0.7 births per 10,000 women in 2013, up from 0.5 in 2012 (data not shown in tables). Because of the small number of births to women in this age group, the birth rate for women aged 50–54 is expressed per 10,000 women. For rates shown elsewhere in this report, births to women aged 50 and over are included with births to women aged 45–49 when computing birth rates by age of mother (the denominator for the rate is women aged 45–49). The increase in birth rates for women aged 35 and over during the last 20 years has been linked, in part, to the use of fertility-enhancing therapies (17,18).

Glyphosphate effects sperm

In a new study conducted by a team of scientists including Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen, France, it was found that RoundUp chemicals altered testicular function after only 8 days of exposure. Exposure at concentration levels of only .05% were harmful to sperm function and caused abnormal sperm mutations varying in time spans from 2, 3, and 4 months after very brief exposure to RoundUp.

Alternative Routes to Parenthood

I sometimes think about when I was a little girl, and hearing my mother and aunts talking about some poor woman. “Isn’t it ashamed….”. There really was nothing anyone could do except, if they were lucky, adopt (sadly, that’s not much of an option these days except for international adoptions–and they’re so terribly expensive), or just adapt to the fact that they would be childless. And, it was always seen as the woman’s problem. No one realized that male factor problems even existed.

Now at least we have options. While they’re expensive, at least we have them.  Additionally, for many, it’s really the hope and dream of becoming pregnant, carrying that precious baby, and then giving birth.  If that is your dream, don’t give up on it.  That dream has become a reality for many of us over 45, over 50, and a very few in their 60’s.

Of course, there’s the old fashioned way.  But for many over the age of 45, and sadly many under that age as well, that way doesn’t work as well as we’d all like.   Fortunately, there are safe and effective infertility treatments.  IVF with one’s own eggs has little improvement in rate.  DE/IVF has changed the game for older mothers.  The rate of success is more related to the age of the donor than other factors.  It takes some getting used to, giving up on the direct genetic link to the child, but in many ways it’s a great option.  If you think about your family genetics, are there some things like heart disease and cancer risk you’d like to improve on.  Then there’s epigenetics.

You need to read a bit about epigenetics to understand–the woman who carries the fetus–her body is the “environment” for that growing fetus.  It has an effect on which genes are turned off and on.  In fact, the child born from a husband’s sperm and a donor egg and carried by you would be a completely different child than if the donor had carried it.  Then there’s the environment you provide after birth……

Hopefully, by the time our children grow up, this will all be a normal part of everyday healthcare.