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'Alarming' number of Australians try having children at older age

Staff Writer | January 9, 2019
An "alarming" number of Australians are leaving it too late to try having children, experts have warned.
Older parents
Australia   Fertility declines with increasing age
Researchers from Flinders University on Tuesday published a study that found men and women "consistently underestimated" the affect age has on fertility.

Kenneth Tremellen, co-author of the study, said that women were delaying having children to fulfil career and education goals without first having tests to establish if their ovaries are prone to premature ageing, a trend he described as "alarming".

"There's been a trend over the last four decades of people leaving it later in life to start a family and currently it's approaching about 31 years of age that women are having children," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

"That's a bit of a concern because fertility declines with increasing age and we know that about 10 percent of the population will pretty well run out of good quality eggs by their mid-thirties and are at real risk of not being able to have kids at all."

The study found that most women were not aware of Ovarian Reserve Screening, which can detect if a woman's egg production has declined, a condition that is mostly symptomless.

"They just don't know about it. They don't have any symptoms and they're totally unaware," Tremellen said.

"Anti-Mullerian hormone is made by the developing eggs and as you get older and you decline in the number of eggs, the hormone level drops so it gives us an idea in what the individual's egg count is."