While there are many risks for women falling pregnant later on in life, such as the risk of down syndrome and pregnancy-related issues like preeclampsia, there are also many positive factors too.
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and Kieron Barclay of the London School of Economics looked at data for more than 1.5 million Swedes to see if there were any trends they could find for kids born to older mothers.
They found that these children are more likely to be taller, less likely to drop out of school and more likely to attend university. They were also more likely to perform better on school tests than their old siblings.
Researchers find children of older mums tend to be smarter, taller and stronger
Researchers looked at siblings (excluding twins and multiples) and studied the relationship between a mum’s age and when she has her kids.
Interestingly, experts found that children born to older mums tended to be taller, and this may be because of the improvements in nutrition and public health – compared to the conditions their older siblings had.
Swedes have been growing taller since at least the early nineteenth century and gained approximately 10 cm between 1900 and 2000 (Gustafsson et al. 2007).
The study found that in 1968, around 75% of all births in Sweden were to mums younger than the age of 30. However, by 2013, 60% were to mums over this age.
However, there are some important things to note. In Sweden, all education is free at all levels. But there are similar trends across the world, including in Australia, with many women choosing to have children later on in life.
There are many reasons why women around the world choose to postpone having children, some may want to focus on their career or not risk financial insecurity.
Mikko Myrskylä, a researcher of the study, isn’t recommending waiting longer to have kids but women to choose to have kids later on in life should be aware of the positive effects.
“We need to develop a different perspective on advanced maternal age,” she says. “Expectant parents are typically well aware of the risks associated with late pregnancy, but they are less aware of the positive effects.”
This study was published in the Population and Development Review.
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