COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The share of babies who are born to single mothers has been rising steadily in Ohio, with 40 percent of last year's births seen among unmarried women, up from 29 percent in 1990, preliminary numbers from the Ohio Department of Health show.
While public health officials have focused attention in recent years on unwed teenage mothers, the birth rate among teens declined in 2006 to the lowest level on record, according to health department records.
Instead, the increase in out-of-wedlock births has been led by women in their late 20s who have delayed marriage or are in live-in relationships. Right behind are women in their 30s and 40s with college degrees and careers.
More older women are having babies outside of marriage as they hear the biological clock ticking more loudly, after their professional ambitions have been pursued, experts said.
"It's still not standard in the public sector for women to have babies while climbing the corporate ladder," said Dr. Grant Schmidt, an infertility specialist at Ohio Reproductive Medicine in Columbus.
"After you turn 35 years old, you begin hearing the risk of having a child with Down syndrome is this much and the risk of having diabetes is that," added Karen Days, executive director of the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence. "It's enough to scare a woman into pregnancy."
A separate set of issues can stand in the way of marriage for other mothers, particularly poor minority women living in inner cities, experts said.