'Women should be offered tax incentives to have babies'
Financial incentives should be offered by the government to encourage women to have their children earlier, a leading fertility expert has said.
Fertility rates can sharply decline from the age of 30.
However, latest figures show the average age Irish women become mothers is steadily creeping up.
The HSE's Perinatal Statistic Report for 2013 reveals that the average age of an Irish woman giving birth is now 32.1 years.
This is up from 30.8 years back in 2004.
Dr David Walsh, of the Sims Fertility Clinic in Dublin, has suggested financial incentives would encourage women to start their family at a younger age.
"Ireland has one of the highest ages of childbirth in the world, and we should try to bring that down," he told the Irish Independent.
"Public policy is the answer - by way of providing tax incentives. We should be doing what other countries have done. There should be incentives in place to encourage women to have their children when they are younger."
He also said it is important women should be "proactive" when making decisions about matters such as their fertility.
"They should consider when they want children - but they shouldn't be stampeded to have kids through fear.
"Equally they shouldn't be loaded with all this anxiety about when is the most opportune time to give birth without providing them with solutions.
"Therefore public policy should be encouraging women to have children at whatever is the appropriate age for them.
"The Government should examine what worked in France by way of way of relevant tax policies. Instead of telling women they shouldn't do this or that, policy should be tied to something positive, to encourage them to have their children a year or two earlier," he added.
He said the chances of getting pregnant and delivering a healthy baby are at the optimum when a woman is in her 20s.