Powerful family pressure on women to have children

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 8:01pm

The main influences on a Hong Kong woman's decision to conceive come from her husband and his parents, according to a report released by the Hong Kong Society of Reproductive Medicine on Tuesday.

The report, entitled Starting Families Asia, was conducted over the past two years and surveyed 1,000 women.

It found that two in three women believe having a child is the most important thing in their life, yet Hong Kong is one of five of Asia's most prosperous nations with the lowest fertility rates in the world. The others are Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Hong Kong's fertility rate is 1.1, well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

The report was commissioned by Merck Serono company, a world leader in fertility treatment, that funds public health education workshops across the Asia Pacific.

The company's chief executive, Dr Martin Erbes, spoke with reporter Stephen Quinn.

Also today, the Mead Johnson Nutrition company called the Hong Kong government's attempt to blame milk formula producers for the city's low breastfeeding rates hasty.

The Department of Health was trying to shift the blame instead of taking responsbility for failing to address the "root causes" of low breastfeeding rates, the company said. 

A 2010 research study showed that after three months, only 37 per cent of babies were receiving breast milk. The two top reasons for ending breastfeeding were insufficient milk and returning to work.

Dr Steven Wu, medical director of the Mead Johnson paediatric nutrition institute, based in Guangshou, spoke with reporter Stephen Quinn.