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The Benefits of Older Parents

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The only thing lower than our 401(k)s in 2010 was our baby-making production. The U.S. birth rate hit its lowest level in decades. However, the only age group that showed an increase in birth rate was women 40 to 44, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The late-30s category also outpaced teenagers.

In an age of fertility treatments, adoption, and stepfamilies (13 percent of all adults have at least one stepchild), more parents are finding themselves in the “midlife” camp, raising children in their late 30s and 40s. Even Hollywood's A-list has gotten into the act.

Robin Gorman Newman of Great Neck, NY, became a mom through adoption at 42. “Older parents are some of the most grateful people I know,” says the founder of motherhoodlater.com, a community for midlife moms. “From fertility issues to health risks, chances are their road to parenthood wasn't easy.”

For Dawn Weinberger, a mom in Hillsboro, OR, who turned 39 just a couple of weeks after her daughter was born, midlife mommyhood has plenty of advantages. “We've been watching our friends raise children for fifteen years now, and having the opportunity to observe others in action and learn from them has been really helpful,” says Weinberger.

“Age brings with it emotional stability, psychological strength, and financial security,” says Pasquale Patrizio, M.D., a professor with the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Yale Fertility Center. But he adds that age brings with it a host of medical concerns. “Pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm delivery, and gestational diabetes all increase as women deliver children at over 45 years of age.”

Wendy Williams and her husband were 44 and 41, respectively, when they had their daughter Kate, now 3. (She was all-natural—no test tubes or background checks required!) Unlike younger parents, who tend to obsess over their kids, Williams's approach is more laid-back. “I believe that as ‘old’ parents, we have brought her into our life, rather than make her the focus of ours.” She adds that a great perk of having kids at this age is “people assume we're younger than we are.” That's something no amount of anti-wrinkle cream can do.

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