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Flemish women have never been older when they have their first baby

New figures show that Flemish women have never been older when they have their first child.  Today the average Flemish woman is twenty-nine when she has her first baby.

11,000 women or 18% of the total who gave birth were aged over 35.  3.1% of new mothers were over 40. Doctors say the increase in the average age is worrying because it is chiefly due to women over 35 having babies.  Doctors say the best age to have a baby is between 20 and 35.  Complications like pregnancy diabetes and children who don’t grow enough may follow.

An awful lot of women are being treated for fertility issues.  7.2% of Flemish women who gave birth didn’t get pregnant naturally. The number of women in Flanders who become pregnant after fertility treatment is double the figure in neighbouring countries.

Last year 63.836 babies were born in Flanders and the VUB’s university hospital in Brussels.  The figure is practically the same as in 2017.  More births were recorded in East and West Flanders, fewer in Limburg, Antwerp and Flemish Brabant.

The number of babies with Down syndrome is down 30%.  28 babies with the syndrome were born last year.  The fall is possibly linked to the free non-invasive blood test, the NIP test as it is called.

Once again the number of C-sections rose.  21.2% of births are now the result of a C-section in Flanders. Often women are having a second and third C-section when this is not always necessary. Doctors say that 70% of the women who undergo a C-section could have had a more natural birth. Dr Laubach sees more and more women who request a C-section.  She notes that if it’s not necessary for medical reasons, it should be avoided: “There are risks for the mother and there is scaring of the uterus. This can lead to complications in future pregnancies. There is research that claims that children born in this way are more likely to be obese and have breathing difficulties.”

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