Analysis of Women’s Age At First Child’s Birth

The one issue which caught my eye during surfing for finding issues to write this paper is women’s age at first child’s birth. This is noted by Canadian Public Health Association in current issues forum. First looking at this I thought how this can affect the whole population of Canada and why they have considered this issue as major concern but when I went in depth of the studies and correlated all the studies with public health and some of the events occurred in my practice back home, I found this issue should get proper attention by government and they should do some take better steps for this. What is the issue? Nowadays, studies suggest it is increasingly common for Canadian women to delay childbearing. The average age of first-time childbearing mothers is a useful indicator for interpreting childbearing patterns as well as a predictor of youth health because delaying in the first childbearing can cause some health issues with the child as well as a mother which can affect future youth of the country. There is a growing trend towards delayed childbearing in Canada and other developed countries such as Japan and the United States.

During 1987 in Canada, only 4% of first births occurred among women aged 35 and up; by 2005, the rate had nearly tripled to 11%. The proportion of first births occurring among women in their early 30s also increased from 15% to 26%. The average first-time mother’s age was 30. 8 in 2016 which suggests how drastically the rate is increased during all past years (Claudine P 2018). According to a new report by Statistics Canada, the switch happened in 2010 and widened in 2011, when there were 52. 3 babies born per 1,000 women ages 35 to 39 and 45. 7 per 1,000 women ages 20 to 24.

The agency also reports that birth rates for women in their early 40s now are nearly as high as for teens. And the highest percentages of births during the 30-34years. The fertility rate for women aged 30 to 34 has surpassed that of women aged 25 to 29 years (Claudine P 2018). The gap between these two age groups progressively widened during the 2012 to 2016 period, mostly as a result of the decreased fertility rate among women aged 25 to 29 since the rates among women aged 30 to 34 have stabilized since 2007. The fertility rate for women in their early thirties was 107. 3 births per 1,000 women in 2012 and 107. 6 in 2016, compared with 95. 7 births per 1,000 women in 2012 and 87. 6 in 2016 among women aged 25 to 29 (Patricia K 2016). Why it is important? This issue is important because medically speaking, older mothers are at increased risk of prenatal and birth-related complications. Less is known about the relationship between advanced maternal age and the child's development. This could affect future youth of Canada who could have poor health and there would be an increase in the percentage of mental, neural and genetic disorders associated with late childbearing.

For example, the rate of having a baby with Down syndrome accelerates with maternal age. There are other issues which are related to maternal age, for instance, certain researches have published suggest older mothers have a heightened risk of giving birth to children with congenital anomalies that are characterized by abnormal chromosome numbers. There are certain cognitive disorders which are associated with increased maternal age such as cerebral palsy, autism, developmental delay in child, ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and not only baby could suffer from respiratory distress in early age because of developmental defects in organs but also child can also develop some psychological problems while growing up because of generation gap between parents and them. The advanced maternal age is not the only a problem for a child but it also affects the mother’s health as it increases chances of stillbirth. Studies suggest there is around 1. 2 to 2. 23 time’s higher rate of stillbirth in older women. Pregnant women aged 40 and older are at greater risk of ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, heart attack, and death from cardiovascular disease as well (Qureshi, 2017). The researchers identified increases in the risk of gestational diabetes, Placenta Previa, the breech positioning of the baby, emergency cesarean delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, preterm birth in mothers more than the age of 35 years (Huang, L 2007). Whom it concerns? If we think about microsystem, this issue could impact all ages of women and the child because the reasons for delayed pregnancies are found include women reaching higher education levels, establishing their career, improved methods of contraception, social and cultural shifts that have left women feeling not ready to have children, lack of childcare, low benefit levels, inflexible workplace policies, economic or housing uncertainty, and unemployment. Another reason why women are going through delayed pregnancy could be down to improved fertility options, such as IVF and surrogacy which can affect women (Hannah Nichols 2017).

The health of the child and mother will be at risk as I discussed above. If the girls are getting educated at an earlier age could understand the consequences of delayed pregnancy and avoid them. If we think at meso level, it could affect the companies for whom women work, the families of women, also the education systems where the child is going to study. The issue also affects the nation’s economy in future if we think at macro system level because of the more delayed pregnancy, the more abnormal youth and the increased mortality rates of women at a 40s age when they can work for the economy for the nation. If we talk about the health system, this issue can affect at different levels of health care system such as if I take the basic level, the micro level of health care system which includes the healthcare professionals and public, this issue affects at this level the most because here the public is getting affected by complications of this issue and they are suffering at the most level. Healthcare professionals are also getting affected because sometimes the mother goes to complications where the medical termination of pregnancy is required but she is not ready to do so, in this case, health care professional can face a problem because he has to save the life of mother first.

In such cases where women’s fertility is at declination and because of that she cannot conceive pregnancy (Patel, R 2017), in such cases, it is difficult for the doctor to explain the women. And by conceiving if they are putting their life at risk. It also affects at meso and macro system because it will increase the load on hospitals and ultimately on the government to provide proper care to them and financial load on government would increase by this and this could affect the quality of treatment. What could be done? For the solution of this issue, according to systems thinking the first step should be taken is to find most of the causes for the issue like women are delaying their pregnancy because of career insecurities, social and cultural burdens which give women a feeling to not have baby at this time, lower levels of benefits and help from industrial world and sometimes the rigid work policies of companies and family uncertainty and lack of support from partner as well. For finding the problems and causes, we can hold larger surveys in particular areas and then ask women themselves about the issue. These all could do at the micro level of system and have to involve teamwork of researchers and government both in this. The second thing we can do is ask for the basic solution option from the public only because they can only know what is best for them and how they want to solve this problem. We can also find the problems occurring in the industrial world for improving their work policies because in the end results they are also going to be affected by this problem. We also cannot neglect the pros of this issue during a systemic solution. Delayed childbearing can have little benefits like there is more anxiety during pregnancy, but parents are more mature and likely to be more financially secure and to have higher levels of education. Multiple pregnancies have a slightly more favorable outcome in older women.

Overall, if older women can sustain a pregnancy, the pregnancy outcomes can be positive, and parents may be well prepared to cope with the physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy and parenting. Older parents can bring experience, knowledge, and economic resources to the task of child raising, which may suggest a social advantage to delayed parenting. But this could have considered up till certain age like the age of 35 years because after 35 years women are experiencing a decrease in fertility and mortality rate increases after this age (Stein Z 2000). We also have to consider this point during finding a solution because this is also important but it applies to women who can sustain a pregnancy without complications, the rate of which is low. When we think about systems, all systems are interrelated with each other and this issue can affect social and family systems as well so that there is also a big need to educate them for this matter.

For Educating people, the media, campaigning, workshops, seminars could be used which are more popular and easily available to the population. This could work at both the micro and meso level. At the macro level, Government could think about certain policies which can help in solving problems like unemployment of parents, changing work policies, for example, a woman who conceive pregnancy before 35 years can get certain government benefits like free hospital usage and also get more maternal leaves then who gets pregnant after 35. The government also make some legislation which makes industries to change their work policies.

Also, they can arrange awareness camps in schools and college levels to prevent delayed childbearing. So, all in all, from my understanding this issue should be considered in important healthcare issues because it affects the population like young and the adults who are important for any country and also it affects persons’ health. This issue could br solved by using systems thinking lens in a better way because it concerns every aspect of system and every aspect of problem would be covered. So, in nutshell systems thinking lens would be more helpful for solving this problem.

18 May 2020
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