A leading fertility expert believes children as young as nine should be taught about the dangers of leaving it too late to start a family [Photo: Rex Features]
Another week, another story about British women leaving it too late to have kids. But a leading fertility expert has now upped the ante on the warnings by claiming that girls as young as nine should be advised about their ticking biological clock.
Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society (BFS) and professor of reproductive medicine at Leeds University believes children should be taught about fertility from a young age.
“This is something we have been discussing a lot at the BFS,” Professor Balen told the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Helsinki, Finland. “There were worries about diluting the message [that teenage girls should avoid getting pregnant] and we still have to advise about avoiding STIs [sexually transmitted infections] – but we also need to ensure that young people are getting a better understanding of fertility.”
Should children be taught lessons in fertility? [Photo: Rex Features]
A survey by the BFS earlier this year found four in five of those aged between 16 and 24 wrongly believed that female fertility only starts to decline after the age of 35. In reality, it can start to decline in the late 20s.
Professor Balen believes children need to be taught about the importance of eating healthily, exercising and not smoking to ensure their bodies remain in good shape to have babies.
“We need to get the message across early and consistently to get the habits right from the start. I don’t think teenage girls are taking nearly enough exercise, for example,” he said.
“We need to keep taking the chance to have these conversations. We should be starting this pre-puberty, around the age of nine or ten, when they are mature enough to start understanding these issues.”
Other experts argue nine is too young to have a discussion about motherhood [Photo: Rex Features]
But not everyone agrees and other experts have argued nine could be too young to have a discussion about starting a family.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “There is doubtless a time and place for communicating the message that female fertility declines with age and that motherhood cannot be put off indefinitely, but the majority of parents will take the view that the time is not prior to puberty and the place is not the primary school classroom.”
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