BookmarkBookmarkTick

Ready for a Baby? Genetics Can Decide

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
January 30, 2017
Hero Image
Image: Getty

We know that women are having kids later and later in life. But our genes might be encouraging us to do otherwise.

A study out of Oxford University is the first to focus on the biological reasons women delay motherhood. We already know the sociological reasons: the rise of contraception, furthering education, career aspirations. And what researchers found was "a clear genetic component linked to the age of mothers when they have their first child, and to the number of children they have,” according to Oxford professor Melinda Mills.

“It’s not one gene, but a combination of genetic variants that makes you more prone to having your children later or earlier,” she said.

Exactly which genes is unclear, but a follow-up study should bring that information to light. One thing is clear; women are routinely not following their genetic inclinations.

“What we should see is women having children earlier and earlier, but they are not doing that,” Mills said. “We are having our children when we are least biologically able to have them. Why are people postponing? What are the genetic and social drivers, and how do they interact?”

Certainly, some women’s genes make them more fertile, influencing the number of children they can conceive. And genes can determine personality or inclination to continue education, influencing when they conceive.

Related Video
25 slides

The Best Movies to Watch While Pregnant

profile picture of Holly Pevzner
Holly Pevzner
Contributing Writer
black and white image of woman and doctor's hands looking at sonogram

US Birth Rates Hit Their Lowest Level in 35 Years, CDC Reports

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
05/21/2020
couple looking away over body of water

CDC: Birth Rates in the US Have Reached an All-Time Low

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/02/2019
woman in her third trimester of pregnancy

There’s Finally Science to Prove That Pregnant Women Need Their Personal Space

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
07/02/2019
mid-section of couple holding hands and walking

CDC: Birth Rates in the US Haven’t Been This Low in More Than Three Decades

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/15/2019
meghan markle in new york city for her baby shower

Meghan Markle's NYC Baby Shower Stirs Convincing Theories on the Royal Baby's Sex

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/21/2019
meghan markle's birth location is revealed

The Lindo Wing Is Reportedly Prepping for Meghan Markle's Delivery

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/01/2019
couple is forced to pack up their stuff and move after having a baby.

Landlord Forces Couple to Move Because They Had a Baby

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/29/2019
surprised baby's face

There Aren't Enough Babies Being Born in the US, CDC Says

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/10/2019
Article removed.