News Brief: Older Women, First Births

Posted on by NCHS

Older woman with childA recent NCHS Data Brief, drawing on data collected through the National Vital Statistics System, has received nationwide media attention for its findings on first-time births to older mothers. Data Brief No. 152, “First Births to Older Women Continue to Rise,” found significant increases over the past four decades in the average age of women at the birth of their first child. The study’s authors, T. J. Mathews and Dr. Brady Hamilton, ascribed this increase in part to the shift in first births to women 35 years and older.

The authors note that delayed childbearing affects the size, composition and future growth of the population of the United States. First time older mothers are generally better educated and more likely to have more resources (including higher incomes) than those at the youngest reproductive ages. However, increased health risks to older mothers–especially those 40 years and older–and their infants are well documented.

“First Births to Older Women Continue to Rise” received coverage from CBS News, NBC News, CNN, The Washington Post, New York Daily News, The Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times, Huffington Post,, and numerous other news and health outlets and websites. Author T. J. Mathews was also interviewed for a news segment on Washington, DC’s ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV.

For a state-by-state breakout of first birth rates for women aged 40-44 in 2000 and 2012, and the percentage change in that time period, see our interactive feature, Nation at a Glance: First Births to Women Aged 40-44.

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Page last reviewed: October 31, 2022
Page last updated: October 31, 2022