Is having children later in life fair or selfish?

If we asked anyone in our great community what are the best things that ever happened to them, it’s more than likely that most would say something along the lines of, “having children”. Our kids bring us so much joy – as do our grandchildren when the time comes – and we do our best to give them our love and the best start to life they possibly could have. But what happens when the line between the two is blurred? What happens when we have them more for our own happiness and less to give them the best life they could possibly have? Is it fair on them?

Yesterday a new study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry that found the children of men over 50 and women over 40 have a significantly higher risk of autism than those of parents in their 20s or 30s. The study analysed over 5.7 million children in five countries including Australia and concluded that the children of men aged 50 or higher have a 66% higher risk of autism. Likewise, the children of mothers in their 40s had a 15% higher risk of autism.

Another study in February 2014 found that children born to fathers over the age of 45 are at greater risk of developing mental health problem and are more likely to struggle at school. The study from The University of Indiana in the United States said they had higher chances of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had more problems with drug abuse.

While the studies have not concluded the exact reason behind this biological phenomenon, some ideas are quite practical. There’s an age when our bodies are at optimum balance for reproduction and to be frank, going against our biological clock is going against nature, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.

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Some people delay parenting quite simply out of choice. They don’t feel prepared enough for it. According to Live Science, 72% of women and 57% of men believe that waiting to have children given them an advantage in being properly prepared. Others also cited having more career success and flexibility as the reason for delaying children. The problem for these people was that conceiving naturally was too difficult and so they required assistance through programs like IVF. There’s no harm at all in this and the creation of IVF is a wonderful thing that has made the lives of so many couples happier and the lives of so many people possible. But is being an older parent going against nature? Is it forcing your body to do something it isn’t optimally primed to do?

Late parenting is something that is happening all over the world. The Telegraph reports that the average age of American women having their first children has risen by 4 years since 1970. It’s increasing popularity is something that has scientists concerned though. Female fertility drops off steeply after the age of 35, while the risk of miscarriage goes rocketing up. Even with the help of IVF, a woman over 42 has only a 5% chance of having a baby. Relying on these chances of reproduction for the future of the entire population is scary but more importantly, it makes us question the reason for reproducing. Is it purely to self satisfy or is it to give your offspring the best chances of a healthy and happy life?

It is understandable that some people feel they can provide better financial security to a child later in life however is that more important than their health? If you know your child has less of a chance of being healthy later in life is delaying them the opportunity for almost guaranteed good health the selfish thing to do?

Share your thoughts with us today. Is late parenting selfish? Is it the unfair thing to do? Leave your comments below…