Over the past three decades, there has been a steady increase in the average age of parents. Advances in fertility science mean that people can, literally, put their eggs or sperm on ice and delay the start of parenthood.
Many large companies, such as Apple, Facebook and Google, now offer egg freezing to employees as part of their healthcare package. Putting off having a baby has never been easier or more socially acceptable.
However, parents have a moral obligation to give their child the best start in life.
But children born to mothers over the age of 35 and fathers over the age of 45 are at greater risk of having genetic and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia
, which arguably affects the child's quality of life.
Also, older parents are more likely to need assisted reproduction, such as IVF, which is associated with babies being born early or with low birth weight. Babies born via IVF are also at higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in later life.
If prospective parents freeze their eggs or sperm when they are younger, they can reduce some age-associated risks but not those due to IVF.
If a 30-year-old woman delays trying for a baby from age 30 until 35, her chances of falling pregnant are reduced by 9 percent.
When to start?
The scientific data is clear. The "right" age to have a child according to your biological clock is under 35 for women and under 40 for men.
More than 75 percent of young people underestimate the impact of age on male and female fertility – yet only 27 percent of doctors discuss this with patients aged 18-34 years who wish to delay childbearing for social reasons.
There needs to be a greater awareness about the risks of delaying family planning, and family doctors should play a more proactive role in this.
So, ultimately, if you want to have a child, the right age may be sooner than you thought.