First-time mothers giving birth to healthy, bouncy babies is a natural feel-good story — I mean, just look at the word “bouncy.” That is especially when it follows years of trying and fears it will never happen.
But women’s magazines that highlight “advanced maternal age” pregnancies, without mentioning the fact that many have used fertility treatments, are doing their readers a disservice.
They fostering misconceptions about the prospects for conception and successful pregnancy in “advanced” years.
That’s according to a new study by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine. They analyzed hundreds of stories about pregnant celebrities featured in women’s magazines — and found that almost none mentioned fertility treatments.
The study examined 416 issues of three popular women’s lifestyle and celeb magazines, Cosmopolitan, People and US Weekly, published from 2010-2014, concerning a total of 240 female celebrities who were pregnant or had recently given birth. Altogether, the researchers tallied 1,894 separate mentions related to “fertility, pregnancy or motherhood.”
Over half (56%) of the subjects in these stories were age 35 or above — considered advanced maternal age — but only two were described as having used fertility treatments to increase the odds of becoming pregnant.
Seven of the celebrity mothers featured were 44 years of age or older, but remarkably, assistive reproductive technology wasn’t mentioned in connection with any of these cases.
The researchers concluded: “Widely consumed popular media downplays the impact of age on fertility and glamorizes pregnancy at advanced ages …This depiction perpetuates the general notion that fertility is ‘flexible’ and is highly damaging to young women.”