10/12/2010 11:23 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Fewer Women Having Babies As Birth Rate Drops

one in five women is childless by 45 One in five women is childless by 45. Photo: MorgueFile, MyJayKay

We hate to bring up the B word but have you given any thought to whether or not you'll have a baby in the next decade or so? It's a serious question, and one that experts are getting anxious about too, since figures show the birth rate has dropped dramatically in just one generation.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, these days one in five women does not have children by the time she hits her mid-40s - that's the highest rate of childlessness in 44 years. But just one generation ago - that is, your mum's generation - only 12 of women born a generation ago. Even men are having kids slightly later in life: today the average age for becoming a dad is 32.4, compared to 29.8 in 1979.

There again, the number of women getting pregnant in their 40s has doubled during the last 10 years, which suggests many are delaying having a family. Marriage looks like it's going out of fashion among younger mums too, with those having babies in their 20s far more likely to be single or living with their partner than part of a married couple.

Experts naturally have their theories as to why patterns of childbirth are changing. Some suggest that women are opting to focus on their careers instead of having a family early, while others say we're simply taking too long to find Mr Right.

Have you given any thought to when you'll have a baby?

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