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The rise of pregnancies in women over 40 as Kourtney Kardashian welcomes baby boy

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 04: Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker attend the UFC 285 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Kourtney Kardashian, 44, and Travis Barker, 47, have welcomed their first child together. (Getty Images)

Kourtney Kardashian has welcomed her first child with husband Travis Barker, adding to her brood at the age of 44.

The reality star revealed she was pregnant in June, just over a year after she and Barker, 47, wed in a lavish ceremony in Italy last spring.

The pair already have six children between them; Kardashian shares 13-year-old son Mason, 11-year-old daughter Penelope and eight-year-old son Reign with her ex Scott Disick, while the Blink-182 drummer is father to son Landon, 20, daughter Alabama, 17, and stepdaughter Atiana De La Hoya, 24.

Kardashian is one of a growing number of women who are getting pregnant over the age of 40 across the UK and the US. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released at the start of 2023 for England and Wales showed that the number of women over 40 having babies was higher than women under age 20 for the first time in nearly 70 years.

The figures revealed that 28,478 births were recorded to mothers aged 40 to 44 in 2021, and 2,064 to mothers aged 45 and older. Meanwhile, there were 13,739 births to mothers under the age of 20 in the same period, and the average age of women having a child is now 30.3, the highest since records began in 1938.

Why British women are delaying motherhood

According to the ONS, the shift towards older motherhood can be attributed to medical advances in fertility treatment, as well as the increasing number of women in higher education and work.

In addition, a 2022 survey conducted by fertility specialist IVI London found a number of other external factors are affecting women’s choices, including the rising cost of living and fears about the state of the UK and the wider world.

The survey, which included women aged 25 to 45 across the whole of the UK, revealed more than a quarter (29.2%) of women who want children have delayed motherhood due to a lack of finances. The figures echoed a 2021 survey by Barclays that found nearly half (46%) of would-be parents decided to postpone having a baby because they feel financially unprepared.

Liz McLaren, head of vital statistics output at the ONS, said: "Over the last 40 years, the percentage of live births to women aged 35 and over has increased considerably. Women aged 40 and over now have a higher fertility rate than women aged under 20 – this was last recorded in the 1940s."

A pregnant woman and a man sit on a sofa as they smile and caress her belly
More British women are choosing to have children later due to a myriad of reasons, including better fertility treatments and financial planning. (Getty Images)

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service added: "The trend towards older motherhood is here to stay, and there are many understandable reasons why women today are waiting longer to start or expand their families than those in previous decades.

"Rather than bemoaning this development, we should seek to understand and support the decisions women make. More affordable childcare and improved maternity rights may make it easier for some women to start their families earlier if they wish, but we also need to ensure we have high quality reproductive healthcare services configured to meet women’s needs, whatever the age at which they conceive."

What to know about becoming a mum in your 40s

Previously, having a child when you were over the age of 35 was frowned upon by wider society – however, in recent years, scientific evidence and women’s autonomy has chipped away at the taboo.

Most pregnancies in women aged 40 and above are low-risk for both mother and baby. However, the risk of complications rises slightly with age.

Watch: "Having IVF baby as single 50-year-old means I'm not missing out on partying"

According to the National Childbirth Trust and the NHS, some of the issues mothers over the age of 40 may experience include:

Blood pressure problems

Issues like hypertension (raised blood pressure) and pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure and protein in the urine) may come up in pregnant women over 40. Your blood pressure should be monitored closely by your midwife or doctor.

Age-related health conditions

Pregnant women aged 40 and above may be more likely to have conditions like diabetes, obesity and decreased cardiovascular reserve (the difference between the rate your heart pumps blood at and its full capacity to pump blood).

Venous thrombosis

Venous thrombosis is a blood clot that occurs in a vein. It is uncommon, but the risk of developing one among women aged 40 and above is one in 500, which is 10 times higher than women who are the same age but not pregnant.

Induction of labour

It is recommended that women aged 40 and above undergo an induction of labour around their due date, as data shows a small increase in the risk of stillbirth. However, the risk of a stillbirth remains very low and rare for women in this age group, with a two in 1,000 chance of stillbirth at 39 to 40 weeks pregnant.

Miscarriage

The risk of miscarriage does increase as you get older, rising from 18% among women aged 30 to 22% in women aged 35, to 38% in women aged 40.

Fetal anomalies

Having a baby later in life does increase the risk of certain types of chromosomal anomalies developing in the foetus, including Down’s, Edward’s and Patau syndromes.

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