The best age to start a family

03 August 2015 - 09:34 By TANYA FARBER

Exactly when should you start having children? A group of Dutch university researchers has taken 300 years of fertility data to come up with a computer-generated model that might give the best answer.The data sample included 58000 women whose child-bearing histories tell us that if, for example, you want three children without the help of IVF, you will have a 50% chance of doing so if you start at 35.But, if you want your chances to go up to 90%, better start trying at 23.If you want only one child, and are happy with a 50% chance of success with the use of IVF, you can leave it until you are 42. To improve your chances to 75%, the model suggests you start at 39.Dik Habbema, of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, a creator of the model, told New Scientist magazine: "We have tried to fill a missing link in the decision-making. My son is 35 and many of his friends have a problem deciding when to have children because there are so many things they want to do."According to Dr Klaus Wiswedel, director of the Cape Fertility Clinic, in Cape Town, the "when to start" dilemma has shifted as women have advanced in the workplace."We find a lot more women are seeking fertility later in life. They want to establish themselves professionally first, and enjoy life for a while, and then go on to having children."It is a very personal thing so it is difficult to advise someone exactly when they should start."He said that after 35 fertility in a woman decreases by 3% a year.Once you are pregnant, however, if your general health is good, it won't make a significant difference if you are a few years younger or older.Lorena Aswegen, 41, said: "I had an awful miscarriage between having my two children."Obviously there was no way of knowing, but I was depressed and it took me a while to fall pregnant again. I wish I had started younger."This model sounds very useful and I am sure it is, but it can't factor in the realities of life and let's hope the doctors make that clear."

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