Pregnancy Through The Celebrity Lens

Becoming a mum at an older age was in the news again today. I guess I’m tuned into noticing pregnancy and parenthood stories in the news – a combination of living and breathing these issues in both my home and work life (and also working with a very efficient press team at NCT!). But it does seem like these stories are prime fodder for press activity – single research studies draw significant coverage, even when they don’t add anywhere near sufficient evidence to change policy or practice. Add a celebrity into the mix, and we have big news …

More than 2,000 babies were born to mums over the age of 45 in England and Wales in 2015, and I’m sure everyone of those mums are relieved to have not had the press attention that Janet Jackson received this week. Was it fertility treatment? Is it safe? How will she cope with teenagers in her 60s? If she isn’t thinking all of these things over, then the celebrity following is doing so for her.

There are many complex social, professional and financial reasons why a woman might choose to have a baby later in life. And for many women this doesn’t feel like a real choice – they have only just settled with a partner who they feel ready to start a family with. Or have experienced fertility issues for many years, before what feels like a miracle happens. Or perhaps have experienced previous loss or abuse or mental illness or economic or housing uncertainty which meant that pregnancy was just unthinkable at an earlier time. It is not for us to judge. But it is the reality for many.

Research tells us that there are increased risks associated with older age at pregnancy. Data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) compared outcomes in women aged between 48 and 61 of age to a comparison group of women aged 16 to 46. All women gave birth in UK obstetrician-led maternity units between July 2013 and June 2014. Older women were more likely to have complications of pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, and a preterm birth. They were also more…

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