Australian women continue to wait longer to have children, with the average maternal age reaching 30 years in 2009, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Australia’s mothers and babies 2009, shows that the average age of women who gave birth in Australia has increased steadily from 29 years in 2000 to reach 30 years in 2009.
“The proportion of mothers aged 35 and over also continues to rise—up from 17.1% in 2000 to 22.8% in 2009,” said AIHW National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit spokesperson Associate Professor Elizabeth Sullivan.
"In such a short period of time, that's quite a significant figure," demographer Professor Graeme Hugo told AdelaideNow.
He said the number of mothers in the older age bracket would continue to grow for a range of reasons including lifestyle, economic factors and career choices.
"There's a really strong tendency for women these days to get established in their careers or job and working for a period of time for their own self-fulfillment but also because of the economic circumstances," Hugo said.
The report shows that 294,540 women gave birth to 299,220 babies in Australia in 2009—a 0.8% increase in the total number of births compared to the previous year and a 16.3% increase on the total number in 2000. The number of births has been increasing since 2001, when the lowest number of births during the past decade was reported.
In 2009, 863 women had a homebirth, representing 0.3% of all women who gave birth.
In the four jurisdictions where data on assisted reproductive technology (ART) or IVF were available (Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory), 3.6% of women who gave birth received ART treatment.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.