Fertility: The Facts

Check out all the latest statistics about fertility in Australia.

Age at Birth


According to the most recent figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than 21% of first-time mothers in Australia are having their first baby aged 35 years or older. This is compared to when only 5% of mothers were having their babies at age 35 or older in 1991. The average age of all mothers in Australia is now 29.8 years, up from 27.9 years in 1991. The average age of first-time mothers is also increasing with current figures at 28 years, compared to 25.8 years in 1991.

The number of teenage births has hit an all-time low. The number of teenage mothers as a proportion of all women in the population is less than one-third of what it was 30 years ago.

Fertility Rate


The size of the average family is falling, with fewer people having children and starting families later. The fertility rate has been dropping steadily; 1.73 babies per woman in 2001, 1% lower than in 2000 (1.75). In Australia, 53% of fertility can be attributed to mothers under 30 years of age. Figures for percentage of total births born to particular age group are:

19 & under 5.1%
20-24 16.8%
25-29 30.2%
30-34 31.0%
35-39 14.1%
40 & over 2.7%

Since 1901 Australia has experienced two long period of fertility decline; from 1907 to 1934, and from 1962 to the present. While Australia's total fertility rate for 2000 is well below the world's average, it is comparable to that of other developed countries, most of which have also experienced sustained fertility decline.

Infertility


About 15% of Australian couples of reproductive age have a fertility problem. In about 40% of infertile couples the problem is a male factor, in about 40% it is a female problem and for the remaining 20%, it is a joint problem or the cause is unknown.

IVF


In the year 2000, 4,801 babies were born in Australia under IVF, accounting for 1.9% of all births. This is compared to 1992 where there were 2,237 births as a result of IVF, accounting for 0.9% of all births. Assisted Conception Australia and New Zealand 2000 and 2001 shows that viable pregnancy rates have doubled from what they were a decade ago, with the chance of pregnancy following each IVF treatment cycle being almost 21% in 2001 (or around 1 in 5).

The average age of all women who gave birth after assisted conception treatment was 33.6 years, more than four and a half years older than the average age of Australian mothers. The report also showed that the number of women over 40 years of age having treatment had increased, however their pregnancy rates are significantly less than those achieved by younger women. Caesarean rates for assisted conception pregnancies were around double the rate for all Australian mothers in 2000.

According to a recent study the age of peak utilisation of IVF is 39 years, however the likelihood of a live birth following just one IVF treatment decreases significantly in women aged 35 years and over. The study also showed that no babies were born from egg retrievals in women aged 45 years and over.

Childcare


In 2001, 720,000 children from a population of 3.1 million used formal child care services. Of these (not mutually exclusive) 56% used long day care, 30% used outside school hours care, 17% used family day care, 2% used occasional care.

Childlessness


The proportion of women remaining childless has increased over time in each age group. For women aged 25-29 years in 1981, 25% were childless, while 59% of women in the same age group in 2001 were childless. In 1981, 8% of the 40-44 year old age group was childless compared to 13% in 2001.

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