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  • Whether you're thinking of having kids today or becoming a parent in the future

  • Many are aware that fertility declines as you age

  • so when should you have kids,

  • and is there anything you can do to beat your biological clock?

  • A woman's first period is generally around age twelve or thirteen,

  • but most ovaries don't start releasing eggs until a few years after this

  • In fact, a woman's peak fertility

  • isn't actually until her early or mid twenties

  • Unlike males who are constantly producing new sperm

  • females have a finite number of eggs, but don't worry

  • By puberty you have around 300,000

  • way more than the 300 to 400 you will release in your lifetime

  • However popular statistics show that after trying to conceive for one year,

  • A thirty-year-old woman has a 25% chance

  • of not conceiving a life birth

  • This increases to a 44% chance at 35,

  • and 66% chance at 40 years old

  • But most of this data comes from a 2004 journal

  • looking at French birth records from 1670 to 1830

  • it's safe to say that a lot has changed

  • for the lives and health of women since before the age

  • of electricity, antibiotics, and reliable food supply.

  • It also does an account for the amount of sex

  • couples were having and the fact that sex drive tapers off as you age.

  • Modern studies present a more optimistic look

  • with the percentage of women unable to conceive

  • within a year of unprotected intercourse at 13% to 14%

  • for women aged 27 to 34

  • and 18% for women aged 35 to 39.

  • Still showing declining fertility but much better odds

  • than the historical data suggest. Another study found that among

  • 38 and 39 year olds who have been pregnant before

  • 80% were able to become pregnant naturally within

  • six months. And this points to another flaw in the studies

  • Nearly half of all pregnancies in America are

  • unintended. This means highly fertile women are more

  • likely to become pregnant accidentally when they're younger,

  • while those purposefully trying to have kids for the first time

  • in their late thirties are already disproportionately

  • less fertile regardless of age creating an overestimate

  • for the effect of biological aging.

  • However, older eggs may not fertilize normally and there is an increase

  • of chromosomal abnormalities with age. A woman who is

  • thirty has a 1 in 800 chance of having a baby with

  • Down Syndrome, but the probability goes up to 1 in 100

  • when she's forty. Granted, that's still only

  • a 1% chance. But what about men? Many assume

  • male fertility is limitless with some famous examples like

  • Charlie Chaplin having kids up until his seventies.

  • And while men do continually make new sperm, the more cell divides

  • the higher probability of genetic mutations.

  • By the time a man reaches 50, the cells that create his sperm

  • have gone through over 800 rounds of division and replication.

  • As a result, older fathers carry increased

  • risk of children with schizophrenia, autism, cancer

  • a form of dwarfism, neurofibromatosis, and even skull and

  • facial abnormalities. On top of this, even among young men

  • in the Western world, sperm counts have dropped over 50%

  • in the last 40 years

  • The impact and importance of this

  • is yet to be determined though

  • Of course, there's more to raising children than biology

  • anecdotal accounts points to younger parents having more energy, but

  • older parents having more maturity and financial stability.

  • Of course, more income does not mean better parents

  • but research has shown that higher family income is linked to higher

  • SAT scores. Not to mention in low to middle

  • income countries the risk of death per birth for women between

  • 15 to 19 years old is 28% higher

  • than for women 20 to 24 years old. Studies have

  • also found that in some Sub-Saharan African countries

  • Up to 25% of girls and young women drop out of school

  • because of unintended pregnancies.

  • Preserving young female eggs by cryogenically freezing them

  • has also become more common but isn't a guarantee

  • with increasing age still affecting pregnancy success rates

  • and researchers finding that the freezing process degrades

  • the quality of the eggs. Additionally, this isn't a viable

  • option for most women, as the cost of freezing alone

  • is 10,000 dollars, and one round of in vitro fertilization

  • can cost upwards of 12,000 dollars.

  • Overall, yes, conceiving a baby becomes more difficult

  • as both men and women age, but it is not the level of

  • baby panic that is so often discussed in the media.

  • Individual fertility is very variable

  • based on genetics and lifestyle, and the best time to have kids

  • is a very personal decision as is having kids at all.

  • Special thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting this episode.

  • Even though the world is on an incredible path of progress,

  • it's important to remember that progress isn't inevitable.

  • That's why the Gates Foundation has created a Goalkeepers Report

  • which will help raise awareness, accountability, and drive action

  • for a better future.

  • Did you know that the number of mothers who die during childbirth

  • has been halved in the past generation?

  • The Gates Foundation wants to ensure continued healthy lives

  • and promote well-being for all ages.

  • Click the link in the description to read the report and see the progress being made.

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos every Thursday!

Whether you're thinking of having kids today or becoming a parent in the future

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When Should You Have A Baby?

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    April Lu posted on 2017/09/28
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