Birth trends and factors affecting childbearing among thoracic surgeons

Dang T. Pham, Elizabeth H. Stephens, Mara B. Antonoff, Yolonda L. Colson, Gary A. Dildy, Puja Gaur, Arlene M. Correa, Virginia R. Litle, Shanda H. Blackmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Background. As more women enter the thoracic surgery profession, issues affecting childbearing become increasingly important. We set out to assess birth trends and factors affecting childbearing among thoracic surgeons. Methods. A 33-question anonymous survey was sent to women diplomats of American Board of Thoracic Surgery, residents in Thoracic Surgery Residents Association, and members of Women in Thoracic Surgery. Findings were compared with national norms. Results. There were a total of 113 respondents (88 women, 25 men). Of 69% (61 of 88) of women and 88% (22 of 25) of men who desired children, 98% (60 of 61) of women versus 50% (11 of 22) of men delayed pregnancy (p < 0.0001). Eighty-two percent (72 of 88) of women versus 60% (15 of 25) of men felt their career would be adversely affected, with 6% (54 of 88) of women versus 16% (4 of 25) of men reporting that pregnancy would be viewed unfavorably among peers (p < 0.03 and p < 0.0001, respectively). Of women of childbearing age, 28% (15 of 54) utilized assisted reproductive technology (national average 12%, p < 0.0002). The total fertility rate was 0.6 ± 0.2 children per woman whereas the national rate was 1.9. The average age at first-childbirth was 34.3 ± 0.7 years, while the national norm was 25.4. Conclusions. Women thoracic surgeons begin their family later in life and have fewer children compared with the national average. These findings are likely related to the perception that their career would be adversely affected and to advanced maternal age. Residency programs and practice groups should strive to develop policies that support childbearing earlier in training as the number of women thoracic surgeons grows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-895
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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