Printer Friendly

The fertility panic

In 2005, doctors Susan Bewley and Melanie Davies published an article in the British Medical Journal The British Medical Journal, or BMJ, is one of the most popular and widely-read peer-reviewed general medical journals in the world.[2] It is published by the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd (owned by the British Medical Association), whose other  about the optimum age for having children, entitled: Which Career First? I interviewed them; they were nice, they knew what they were talking about. Bewley said, "I don't want to speculate about things I don't understand - sociology, psychology. All we're saying is, if you saw a herd of people travelling north, you'd say, 'It's getting colder, take some warm clothes!' There's a herd of women drifting into a hazardous state. We are picking up the pieces."

This has been the line, from everyone, throughout the noughties noughties
Noun, pl

Informal the decade from 2000 to 2009

noughties npl (inf) → das erste Jahrzehnt des dritten Jahrtausends, Nullerjahre pl 
 - first, that women alone are making the decision about when to have children, while men, I don't know, watch; second, that being a herd of idiot sheep, we are drifting mindlessly into infertility and then bleating bleat  
n.
1.
a. The characteristic cry of a goat or sheep.

b. A sound similar to this cry.

2. A whining, feeble complaint.

v. bleat·ed, bleat·ing, bleats

v.
 about it once it's way too late. This message was very noticeably driven by the media, rather than the doctors. An absolutely classic headline was one from 2003, in which an estimate was given of one in three couples needing treatment for infertility by 2020. Read more closely, it turned out to be a patchwork of other projections: if sexually transmitted diseases Sexually transmitted diseases

Infections that are acquired and transmitted by sexual contact. Although virtually any infection may be transmitted during intimate contact, the term sexually transmitted disease is restricted to conditions that are largely
 continued to spread at the current rate, coupled with advancing obesity, these factors between them would affect fertility. Well, sure, but you could just as well run a headline saying "One third of couples to contain at least one obese person by 2020". It would be just as true, but not as arresting.

The preoccupations of the decade are these: that women are delaying childbirth because they are consumed with ambition; that more and more women, knowing this, are freezing their eggs; that these women, and others besides, are starting to have their first child in their 40s. The prevalence of these stories would lead anyone to believe that we're in some kind of birthrate birth·rate or birth rate
n.
The ratio of total live births to total population in a specified community or area over a specified period of time, often expressed as the number of live births per 1,000 of the population per year.
 crisis; the actual numbers are tiny.

While it's true that 2001 represented an all-time birthrate low, 2006 represented a 26-year high. Why such crazy veering? Because the major drop in birthrate was all related to the pill, and all registered between the 60s and the late 70s - since then, it's been a relatively straight line, so the difference between an all-time low and a quarter-century high is nothing like as large as it sounds. Career bitches just aren't statistically significant. Nor, for that matter, are egg-freezers: the pioneering Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London has 100 women's eggs. This is not what we would call a runaway trend.

Now, it's true that some of us are "heading north" - there is a 50% increase from 10 years ago in the number of women aged 40-44 who are having a baby. But the numbers at this end of the curve were small to begin with (500 or so a year), and an increase this size has scarcely any impact on the average age of women giving birth, which in 2004 was 29.4, as opposed to 28.4 in 1994. The amount of IVF IVF in vitro fertilization.

IVF
abbr.
in vitro fertilization


IVF 1 In vitro fertilization, see there 2. Intravascular fluid
 we're paying for, collectively, is laughably small - about 1,500 NHS-funded IVF babies a year: for pete's sake, there are 2,000 stillbirths a year, an alarming proportion of which are at the centre of negligence cases brought against the NHS NHS
abbr.
National Health Service


NHS (in Britain) National Health Service
.

Every time I research anything to do with pregnancy, from IVF to egg donors to listeria Listeria /Lis·te·ria/ (lis-ter´e-ah) a genus of gram-negative bacteria (family Corynebacterium); L. monocyto´genes causes listeriosis.

Lis·te·ri·a
n.
 to foetal foe·tal  
adj. Chiefly British
Variant of fetal.

Adj. 1. foetal - of or relating to a fetus; "fetal development"
fetal
 alcohol syndrome, there's this glaring fact - anybody who had a serious interest in healthy women having healthy babies would be concentrating their energies on maternity services, and all its mundane sums. Is there enough money? The rest of it is bilge bilge  
n.
1. Nautical
a. The rounded portion of a ship's hull, forming a transition between the bottom and the sides.

b. The lowest inner part of a ship's hull.

2. Bilge water.

3.
.
Copyright 2008 guardian.co.uk
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright (c) Mochila, Inc.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:guardian.co.uk
Publication:guardian.co.uk
Date:Jan 2, 2008
Words:610
Previous Article:Turf TV signs up Ladbrokes
Next Article:The meal


Related Articles
Snowflakes Falling?
Letters to the editor.
Baby Bust! The world is panicking over birthrates. Again.
The demographic winter and the barren left.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters