If you’re a woman concerned about family planning, you might find the conclusions of a recent study from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shocking. They suggest that older moms – those who are at least 35 – now have an additional factor to consider when it comes to planning when to get pregnant: the possibility of having twins. The study revealed that the twin birth rate in the United States has risen steeply in the last 30 years, most dramatically for mature moms.
The CDC says one in every 30 U.S. babies born in 2009 was a twin. In 1980, the figure was just 1 in 53. Between 1980 and 2009, the rate skyrocketed 76 percent.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia showed higher figures in 2009. The increase actually exceeded 100 percent in Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
The most dramatic changes affected women 35 or older, many of whom plan pregnancies around careers and their biological clocks. Among those between 35 to 39, the rate nearly doubled. For mothers 40 or older, it soared past 200 percent of 1980 figure. The CDC adds that the older age of women at childbirth in recent years is responsible for only around a third of the elevation in twin births over the last three decades.
Impact of Twin Births on Older Moms
The surge in twin births creates another important dilemma for many mature moms. Parents who adamantly want only two children, plan a second pregnancy, and get twins in many ways experience the same scenario as gaining a third child from a surprise pregnancy. They worry about extra demands on finances, parenting responsibilities, and their own stress.
For families concerned with the economics of child rearing, statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture paint a sober picture. A middle-income family with a child born in 2008 should expect to pony up more than $290,000 – a figure adjusted for inflation – for that child until age 18. This number includes food, shelter and other necessities. It doesn’t even begin to cover any college costs.
Families with annual earnings exceeding $98,470 can expect to spend $366,660, the USDA says.
Many parents just entering or already in their prime earning years or starting second careers purposely plan their time and the availability of child care to accommodate the birth of a child. When a twin birth is the result of assisted reproductive technology (ART), they’ve probably already undergone significant stress before conception finally occurred.
A European study published in ScienceDaily concludes that the parents of twins conceived either spontaneously or with the use of ART experience more mental health symptoms up to a year after delivery than couples who had just one baby. After the births, fathers of twins conceived either way showed more signs of anxiety, sleep issues, depression, and social dysfunction than those to whom just one baby was born.
In addition to concerns about parental stress and family economics, the results of the CDC study on twin birth rates provide older prospective moms with another factor to consider before planning a pregnancy.