Starting a family remains one of the central tenets of the ‘American Dream.’ A common image that comes to mind is the pitter-patter of an toddler’s feet as they dart across the kitchen floor during an afternoon game of hide-and-seek. Unfortunately for some potential mommies, infertility can prevent this happy picture from coming to fruition. Fortunately, recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows there may exist light at the end of this dark tunnel; the odds are improving for expectant parents. These data come from a recent report showing a 17% drop in infertile married women, ages 35-44 years, from 1982 to 2010. While this may sound small, this percentage translates to a drop from 2.4 million infertile women in 1982 to 1.5 million women!
How is this information measured? The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) provides measures of fertility for both women and men. According to the NSFG, the two measures for infertility in women are “a lack of pregnancy despite having unprotected intercourse with the same husband or partner” and “difficulty in getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to live birth,” with the latter known as ‘impaired fecundity.’ Among mothers in the 35-44 year age bracket, a common age for first pregnancy in United States, the infertility rate has dropped from 44% to 27%. This is a vast improvement and has allowed many more women to pursue both their careers and family aspirations.
Overall, it appears infertility is on the decline across American married women. I am sure there are many reasons behind the drop in infertility rate which statisticians and healthcare researchers will determine. Isn’t it great to hear about one health statistic of Americans that is improving? Let’s not stop making things better until everyone who wants to can enjoy the glorious sound of pitter-pattering of little feet running across their kitchens floors.
Your comments are welcome at my blog, www.docsmo.com. Until next time.
Infertility and Impaired Fecundity in the United States,
1982–2010: Data From the National Survey of
by Anjani Chandra, Ph.D., and Casey E. Copen, Ph.D., National Center for Health Statistics; Number 67 n August 14, 2013and Elizabeth Hervey Stephen, Ph.D., Georgetown University
Written collaboratively by Norman Spencer and Paul Smolen M.D.