Headlines

As reported by the Republican-American, May 9, 2010.

More Moms Waiting Until 35 or Later to Have First Child

By Kevin Litten

If you look around the restaurant you've taken mom to for Mother's Day today and notice moms with toddlers who look a little, well, older, it's not your imagination.

With more career-minded women than ever, advancements in fertility treatments and more people waiting longer to marry, the number of women over age 35 having babies is on the rise. A Pew Research study released Thursday found women age 35 and above now make up 14 percent of all women giving birth, up from 9 percent in 1990.

In Connecticut, the number is even larger, with 22.6 percent of women having children after they turn 35.

"The proportion of women who are 35 or older has increased every year since 1975, and that's across the board," said Dr. James Egan, chairman of the University of Connecticut Health Center Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "The other side of this trend is that teenagers are less likely to deliver a baby everywhere."

In Connecticut, 7 percent of teens had babies in 2006; nationwide, the Pew Research Center study found that number was 9 percent, a decrease from 11 percent in 1990.

Egan said the reasons vary. Often, the choice is made because of career or education. In Connecticut, where Egan said there are more fertility clinics than in other states, access to medical solutions for women who have trouble conceiving also plays a role.

For Waterbury resident Lori Arsego, 46, who delivered her son Jonathan at age 43, the decision was all about values.

"The most important thing was to find the right person to marry," Arsego said. "It had to be my best friend, and the next thing was, would he be a good father? And it all came true."

Arsego and husband Jack married at 40, "and we immediately tried to get pregnant."

"I was actually very eager to get pregnant because I knew I was older and was concerned about the risk of certain things at that age, so the quicker, the better," Arsego said. Just over a year later, after second-guessing the weak blue line on a home pregnancy test indicating pregnancy, she was tested at her doctor's office.

"The nurse popped in and put the test results in front of my face and said congratulations," Arsego said. "We were both like, 'Whoa!'"

The pregnancy was smooth, and she had only one complication, gestational diabetes, which Egan said is common in older women who become pregnant. The diabetes caused her son to grow larger than usual he weighed in at 10 pounds and doctors delivered him at exactly nine months via C-section to avoid any complications that could occur during labor.

Arsego loves the idea of being an older mother because she feels like she's had a chance to have it all.

"I lived a good life, I had a career (as comptroller of fiber optic technology firm Nufern), I traveled, so I didn't feel like I missed out on anything," Arsego said. "I love kids, but I didn't have an urge that clock wasn't ticking."