In the last decades, the average age for a woman’s first pregnancy has been consistently increasing. In 1970, the average age of mothers during their first pregnancy was 21.4. After over 30 years, the average age has risen to 26.3 (2014). So, should a woman really wait long enough before conceiving her first child?
Getting pregnant beyond the age of 35 increases the health risks for both the mother and child. However, according to a new study, conceiving a child at a later age outweighs these health risks.
A research team which was headed by Mikko Myrskyla of the Max Planck Insitute for Demographic Research and Kieron Barclay of the London School of Economics, analyzed data from 1.5 million Swedish men and women born between the years 1960 and 1991. They considered the relationship of the age of the mother at birth and the characteristics of their children which included their height, grades and their physical fitness. Height and physical fitness were good representations of the children’s overall health. Their education achievement were also noted which was a determinant for their total occupational and lifetime achievements.
The study, which was published in Population and Development Review, revealed that women who wait longer to get pregnant have healthier, taller and better educated children. The reason for these findings were simple: conceiving at a later age can provide their children access to improvements in medical technologies and better public health. Moreover, children born in the recent decades have better chances in getting higher education.
To further establish their findings, the team also compared siblings born to the same mothers who were decades apart since siblings born to the same family share the same DNA and social environment. “By comparing siblings who grew up in the same family it was possible for us to pinpoint the importance of maternal age at the time of birth“, Barclay stated.
On a final note, Myrskyla said that the findings of the study should be considered in family decisions.
The benefits associated with being born in a later year outweigh the individual risk factors arising from being born to an older mother. We need to develop a different perspective on advanced maternal age. Expectant parents are typically well aware of the risks associated with late pregnancy, but they are less aware of the positive effects.
Source: Medical Daily