The director of Schmid College’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program has embarked on a collaborative research project with scholars at the University of Hong Kong aimed at exploring topics related to delayed childbearing.

Brennan Peterson
, Ph.D., associate professor, has conducted extensive research on young adults’ underestimation of their “biological clocks.” Such research into the trend of postponed childbearing and the risks it poses for infertility is of particular interest to his Hong Kong counterparts, Peterson said.

“There’s a lot of money, a lot of income and a lot of hard-working professionals in Hong Kong right now and a lot of women are on the same path as in Western societies where we’re delaying childbearing. And (the Chinese) don’t know right now what women understand about fertility,” Peterson said.

The new project was an opportune result of his visit to China this month to attend the International Congress on Gynecology and Obstetrics: Advances in Women’s Health conference.  The international gathering addressed the full spectrum of women’s fertility health, from too little availability to contraceptives in developing nations to too little knowledge about fertility’s ticking time clock in developed countries. Peterson spoke on a panel moderated by Michael Mbizbo, director of reproductive health for the
World Health Organization
. Peterson’s recent research focuses on the trend of delayed childbearing among highly educated populations and the risks it poses for involuntary childlessness.

During the conference Peterson was invited by Celia Chan, a leading infertility researcher at the University of Hong Kong, to present to her colleagues and Ph.D. students at her university’s Social Work Program in the


Brennan Peterson presented his research on fertility awareness and delayed childbearing among young adults in developed countries during a visit to Hong Kong this month. Pictured from left are Irene Cheung, Celia Chan, Peterson, and Cecilia Chan.

Centre on Behavioral Health. Thanks to a changed flight departure, he was able to make the visit the very next day.

“It was serendipitous,” he said. “We have already begun a research collaboration by replicating my study on Fertility Awareness using a Chinese sample in Hong Kong. I have also already been invited back to the University of Hong Kong to train their students and mental health professionals in Hong Kong regarding advances in infertility counseling. It will likely be the beginning of a rich, integrative collaboration mixing western and eastern approaches to counseling,” he said.

Peterson’s research is based on a Swedish study that evaluated the fertility and
infertility awareness
among college-age young adults. Both studies found that women overestimated the years of their fertility and underestimated the success rates of infertility treatments should they eventually need them. Perterson’s paper on the research was published in the journal
Human Reproduction