Birth Rates and Fertility Challenges: A Conversation with Professor Bill Ledger on SBS Insight

Birth Rates and Fertility Challenges: A Conversation with Professor Bill Ledger on SBS Insight

Featuring City Fertility Sydney CBD fertility specialist Professor Bill Ledger.

Australia’s birth rate may be declining, with more of us choosing to have just one child or none at all, but for those who have challenges, it’s important to understand the biology, one of Australia’s leading fertility specialists says.

City Fertility Sydney CBD fertility specialist, Professor Bill Ledger, shared this sentiment and plenty of others in the first episode of SBS Insight’s 2024 season, entitled ‘The Baby Drought’.

The episode, which aired on SBS on Tuesday, March 5, and is now available to stream on SBS On Demand, saw Insight host Kumi Taguchi speak to singles, couples and fertility and population experts to find out what’s behind the country’s baby drought, and what society could look like in 40 years as a result.

Prof Ledger, who also heads up the fertility research group at the University of New South Wales, spoke broadly about fertility during the 50-minute program.

Several couples from all ages and backgrounds spoke of their decision not to bear children and/or the struggles they’d had having a family of their own.

“First of all, I’d like to congratulate each of the couples who have a very personal story to tell. That is not easy, especially given some of the challenges and opinions,” Prof Ledger said.

“When it comes to fertility, biology is unfair to women,” he said. “Women who are over age 35 when they conceive a child experience a higher risk of miscarriage and chromosome problems such as Down Syndrome in their offspring, whereas, for men, those over the age of 45 have an increased risk of having a child with autism.”

When asked what percentage of fertility issues comes down to men, Prof Ledger told the audience that broadly, a third is down to women, a third to men and a third is shared between them.

“Sperm health begins to decline about the age of about 45, but male health factors come into play too,” he said.

The episode draws on global fertility statistics with Australia sitting behind India and France with 1.6 births per woman.

“Fertility education is key; cost of living plays its part, as does Government support,” Prof Ledger added.

Prof Ledger has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers and journal articles, over 50 book chapters and joint-authored 16 books on infertility and reproductive medicine, including the 2020 Oxford Textbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

He was invited to appear in the ‘Baby Drought’ episode by the SBS Insight team, alongside Futurologist and author Rocky Scopelliti and a range of other guests

SBS Insight’s ‘The Baby Drought’ episode is available to stream now on SBS On Demand.

For more details about Prof Ledger, visit his profile.

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