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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W. / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie / Tenenbaum, Ariel

CiteScore 2018: 0.79

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Better informed is better decided: Addressing the risks of delaying childbearing for female higher educational students

Claudia M. Van der Heijde
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Research, Development and Prevention, Student Health Service, University of Amsterdam, Oude Turfmarkt 151, 1012 GC Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Phone: +31 20 525 5306
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Pascal R. Collard
  • Department of Research, Development and Prevention, Student Health Service, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Ethics of Care, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Peter Vonk
  • Department of Research, Development and Prevention, Student Health Service, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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/ Frans J. Meijman
  • Department of General Practice and Elderly Care Medicine, VUmc School of Medical Sciences Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Published Online: 2018-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2017-0175



Delayed childbearing has gradually started to become the norm for higher educational students, with possible increased future fertility risks and psychological distress as a consequence. What do female students expect from their general practitioners (GP) and other health care providers (HCPs) with regard to delaying childbearing? We also looked into indicators that can be used by HCPs to detect female university students who have issues regarding delayed childbearing.


Cross sectional study: A total of 398 female students (mean age 21.83; SD = 2.4) from at least three different universities completed the questionnaire (distributed through the Internet and at a students’ health service). Potential predictors for having an issue regarding delayed childbearing were assessed with multivariate logistic regression.


Thirteen percent of 398 female students experienced being childless as more or less problematic. Forty-nine percent thinks having children deserves more attention and 33% of the students expect attention from their GP regarding a possible desire to have children during contraceptive consultations. Four factors demonstrated significant associations with having an issue concerning delayed childbearing: age (these issues also occur in younger students), worrying about fertility, not opting for an abortion if pregnant and dissatisfaction with current contraceptive use.


HCPs should discuss delayed childbearing with female students, addressing both the decrease of fertility after a certain age (30), the limited range of fertility methods, and the possible negative physical and psychological consequences of postponement. These elements could be included into programmes of sexual and reproductive health training and into pre-conception care and pre-conception education.

Keywords: age-specific fertility rate; delayed childbearing; fertility decision making; general practitioners; health care providers; pre-conception care; university students


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About the article

Received: 2017-10-05

Accepted: 2017-11-30

Published Online: 2018-02-13

Funding: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 20170175, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2017-0175.

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