Motherhood on Hold

08.13.09 New stats find women worldwide are waiting longer to start a family

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Women are waiting longer to have their first baby, USA Today reports. The new research from the National Center for Health Statistics shows the average age of first-time mothers went from about 21 years old in 1970 to 25 years old in 2006.

But wait: It's also a worldwide trend. According to the report, several countries also saw an age boost. Nations like Japan and Switzerland have an average first-time age of 29.

Another statistical standout was that the rate of first births to women 35 and older surged between 1970 and 2006. During this time period, 1 out of 12 first births were to women in this older age group vs. 1 out of 100 in 1970.

Increases in the average age of first-time moms were seen in all states, but there are some differences. Mississippi has the youngest, with an average age of 22.5. Massachusetts has the highest average age, just under 28. Earlier this year, Crib Notes reported on a slight annual dip in the median age of first-timers—from 25.2 in 2005 to 25.0 in 2006.

While there's no perfect time to have a baby, age does matter (whether we like it or not). Women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have different approaches and different concerns when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood (and of course some similarities!). Browse through our Age Matters section for moms-to-be tips—no matter how old you are when you conceive!

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.