Birth Trends in Canada: Old mums are not a new trend

On August 30, 2016 Macleans posted an article by Meagan Campell purporting that “And now, for the first time ever recorded in Canada, women aged 40 and older have surpassed teenagers in giving birth.” The article keeps getting reposted and shared and many are making comments about this ‘new’ trend of geriatric mums (this is the term used by the medical profession) giving birth.

Unfortunately, the claim is false and I really wish that Macleans would correct their article. This is not the first time ever recorded in the history of Canada that women aged 40 and older have surpassed teenagers in giving birth. In fact, older mums surpassed teens until just after WWII as detailed in this graph of historical births by age for Canada.

And as you can see from the graph the recent uptick in geriatric mums is still significantly below the rate that it was historically.

This fact that older mums is not a new trend should not be surprising. After all, how the hell do you think a women would be able to have 12 kids! I find it interesting the number of people criticizing this ‘new’ trend because the mum will be dead before their kid gets married, given that our life expectancy is now far higher than it was when we were doing this before. In fact, life expectancy increased from 57.1 years to 81.7 year over the period of 1921 to 2011.

The more interesting story is the fact that Canada has the highest average age of a first time mums, clocking in at over 30. And that those geriatric mums now giving birth are not giving birth to their 12 kid, but instead their first or second. That is the more interesting story, rather the reverting trend story.