Background: Women age 35 and older account for an increasing proportion of births and are at increased risk of having difficulties conceiving and of delivering a multiple birth, low birth weight infant, and/or preterm infant. Little is known about men's and women's understanding of the maternal age related risks to pregnancy.
Objectives: 1) To determine the factors influencing the timing of childbearing for non-parenting men and women, 2) to determine knowledge among non-parenting men and women about maternal age-related reproductive risks, the consequences of low birth weight and multiple birth, and issues related to infertility, and 3) to determine characteristics associated with limited knowledge of these reproductive risks.
Methods: An age-stratified random sample of individuals, aged 20-45 years and without children, completed a computer-assisted telephone interview from two urban regions of Alberta, Canada (1006 women and 500 men).
Results: Factors that influenced timing of childbearing for both men and women included: financial security (85.8%) and partner suitability to parent (80.2%). Over 70% of men and women recognized the direct relationship between older maternal age and conception difficulties. Less than half knew that advanced maternal age increased the risk of stillbirth, caesarean delivery, multiple birth and preterm delivery.
Conclusions: Poor understanding of the links between childbearing after age 35, pregnancy complications and increased risk of adverse infant outcomes limits adults' ability to make informed decisions about timing of childbearing.