'Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis 2018: Current Practice and Beyond', 9-10 November 2018
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_95135

Computer model suggests age 'to start trying for a family'

3 August 2015
Appeared in BioNews 813

Researchers have developed a mathematical model for determining what age women should start trying to conceive.

The age suggested by the model depends on factors such as how many children couples want, how certain they are of that number and whether or not they would use IVF, if needed.

If a woman wants a 90 percent likelihood of having one child without IVF, for example, the model suggests she should begin trying to conceive by the age of 32. Alternatively, if a woman wants a 90 percent likelihood of having three children without IVF, then it suggests she should begin trying at the age of 23.

'We have tried to fill a missing link in the decision-making process,' Professor Dik Habbema of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the model's creators, told New Scientist. 'My son is 35 and many of his friends have a problem deciding when to have children because there are so many things they want to do.'

The team took information on natural fertility from data collected on 58,000 women over the 300 years prior to the 1970s. They published details of the mathematical model in the journal Human Reproduction.

'You've got to factor in that people don't necessarily have children in quick succession,' Professor Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at Sheffield University who was not involved in the study, told New Scientist. 'What it is saying is that if you're relaxed about having three children, you can wait until you're 35, but you've got to start early to be certain.'

Pregnancy remains an option for women in their 40s, with the likelihood at 50 percent. Men's ages were not taken into consideration in developing this model because it does not influence fertility until they are in their late 40s.

Professor Ulla Waldenström, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, told New Scientist, ‘In general, young people are very optimistic about their reproductive potential. They also have a lot of faith in reproduction technologies – there is a strong belief that if you can't get pregnant naturally, there is always IVF, although it is far from a guarantee.'

According to the model, IVF only increases the upper age for starting a family of any size by a few years. 'IVF has limited impact, and that might surprise people,' said Professor Habbema. He acknowledged that many other factors influence such decisions, including careers, relationships and childcare availability. 'It's not easy to make recommendations, but I hope the model will play a part in making decisions easier.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Mathematical model major aid in family planning
European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (press release) |  15 July 2015
Realizing a desired family size: when should couples start?
Human Reproduction |  15 July 2015
Want a big family? Then you need to start aged 23: Scientists develop fertility predictor which warns against leaving motherhood too late
Mail Online |  29 July 2015
When should you get pregnant? Computer knows age to start trying
New Scientist |  29 July 2015
Women who want two children 'should start trying by 27'
The Telegraph |  29 July 2015
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
7 November 2016 - by Dr James Heather 
Twelve locations in the human genome have been linked with differences in reproductive behaviour...
10 August 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
All this talk of the age a woman's fertility 'drops off a cliff' is just a distractor from the truth – this phenomenon of women finding themselves 'up against' the biological clock is a cultural one, not a biological one....
20 July 2015 - by Associate Professor Hana Konečná 
What happens if you ask children what age they would like their parents to be, and should this influence the debate on age limits for assisted reproduction?...
29 June 2015 - by Ari Haque 
A UK bioethicist has argued that 18-year-old men should consider freezing their sperm to reduce the risk of their children having genetic disorders...
8 June 2015 - by Ceri Durham 
Analysis of the genomes of thousands of women suggests that a woman's genes influence the age at which she first becomes a mother and the number of children she will have...
9 March 2015 - by Meghna Kataria 
A drug can reduce the risk of infertility and early menopause in women undergoing chemotherapy for certain early stage breast cancers...
19 January 2015 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
The fourth and final session of the Progress Educational Trust's (PET) annual conference was a single speaker session: Professor Lord Robert Winston, who was introduced and chaired by Jeremy Laurance...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.