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Late Fertility and Child Development

At the previous meeting of the Working Group on Late Fertility and its Implications that was held in Paris in collaboration with INED-INSERM, the group examined the possible effects of late parenthood on risks of failure to conceive, for pregnancy outcome, and for the foetus and the newborn. A revised version of the papers has been published as a special issue of the journal Epidemiology and Public Health.

The present seminar, hosted by the NIDI with its customary hospitality and with financial support from Ferring Pharmaceuticals, examined the characteristics of late parents, the implications of late fertility on child’s and mother’s health, the determinants of recourse to ART (Assisted Reproduction Technology), the demographic consequences of ART recourse, and finally the follow-up of children born from ART. The seminar ended with a round table on the implications of late fertility for women and children.

The seminar was attended by eighteen participants and thirteen papers were presented. The programme of the seminar is appended. A very positive aspect of the Working Group on Late Fertility and its Implications is the fact that participants come from a variety of disciplines: demography, sociology, epidemiology and public health, medicine, and statistics.

In the developed countries, postponement of the first child has become common. In addition, older couples are increasingly having recourse to ART, though educational differences are significant here. Various issues were raised during the seminar, among others the definitions of concepts such as late fertility and postponement, the normative values involved, the fact that much research focuses on the negative consequences of late fertility and not enough on its positive implications, the small impact of ART on total fertility. Late fertility is associated with some congenital anomalies, with lower birth weight and gestation duration at birth, and foetal loss. However, a major result of the presentations is that late fertility has only a small impact on the child’s health and his/her development at young ages. Nevertheless, these results are based on a small number of studies and some of them have relatively small sample sizes.

The Working Group on Late Fertility and its Implications envisages publishing a selection of the papers presented at the seminar as a special issue of a population journal. Catherine Gourbin and Gijs Beets have been asked by the group to explore this possibility. No plans for a future meeting have yet been finalised, even if several possible topics have been suggested during the round table.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 to Friday, October 19, 2007
Working Group: 
Late fertility and its implications (completed)