Declining Fertility Rates in the U.S. May Create a Healthcare Crisis

According to the National Vital Statistics System, the general fertility rate in the U.S. is continuing to decline.  It seems that women are waiting longer to have children, a trend that has been recognized since the 1970s.  Over time, the cumulative effect of this may result in a “healthcare crisis” where more healthcare dollars will need to be put into fertility treatments.

Since 2014, there has been a marked decline in fertility rates of women ages 15 – 29.  Birth rates in women over 30 years old have risen slightly though.  In 2015, for the first time, women in their 30s were having more babies than younger women.  The increase in birth rates in women older than 30 years old though is not enough to compensate for the decline in the younger population.

Women are delaying child bearing for various reasons, including pursuing educational and career goals.  Unfortunately, the biological clock isn’t stopping for them though. As women age, both the quantity and quality of their eggs decline. This makes it more difficult for women to conceive as they get older.  This means that more women are undergoing fertility treatment than ever before.  In fact, approximately 1.5% of all babies born in the U.S. are now conceived through IVF.

Fertility treatment can be very costly and is not something that everyone can afford. As the fertility rate continues to decline, it may be time for legislators to start thinking about how they can step in to curtail the diminishing population rates.  More healthcare dollars may need to be directed towards fertility treatment.

As fertility rates decline, the effect trickles down to all parts of the population.  Less children being born means that there will eventually be less people to take care of the elderly population, which will again contribute to a healthcare crisis requiring more healthcare dollars.

Fertility treatment and fertility preservation options, such as egg freezing, need to become more accessible to the whole population.  As of now, most states are not mandating insurance coverage for fertility treatment.  This needs to change. Until then though, women should be proactive about their fertility.  If you’re considering putting off getting pregnant until your late 30s or 40s, you should speak with your physician about a fertility evaluation and options for fertility preservation.

 

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