Vietnamese women having fewer babies: conference

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Vietnam is seeing an "obvious" decline in its fertility rate which is expected fall to 1.78 births per woman in 2020, officials said at a recent conference in Hanoi.

The General Office for Population Family Planning said Vietnam has managed to decrease its fertility rate from 6.36 in 1960-64 to 2.05 in 2011-12.

The rate rises to 2.14-3 for rural women with low educational levels, it said.

Among those who are in urban areas and have higher academic level at least graduating from high school it is as low as 1.8 births.

Duong Quoc Trong, chief of the office, said there is a tendency to delay having babies, pointing out that in 1999 the highest fertility rate was in the 20-24 age group, but 10 years later it was in the 25-29 group.

Women also tend to stop having babies before they reach 35, which is earlier than previously, he said.

Experts said at the conference another reason for the decline is rising infertility.

Nguyen Van Tan, Trong's deputy, said a 2011 study by the Vietnam Military Medical University found nearly 3.2 percent of over 9,300 married couples surveyed infertile.

Another study by the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Hanoi Medical University's obstetrics department last year found that 7.7 percent of more than 14,000 couples could not conceive.

A doctor from the hospital's center for reproductive assistance said 10 years ago two or three couples came per week for fertility treatment, but the number has increased to 50-60 now.

Around half of the infertile couples in the latest study suffered from secondary infertility, which is now on increase, mostly related to gynecological ailments and abortions.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said most infertile couples delayed check-ups and treatment and so they are already old when they opt for assisted reproduction, making it costly but not very effective.

Tan warned that while many countries, including Vietnam, have succeeded in decreasing the birth rate, none has managed to increase it. 

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