Fertility declines with age and there are more health risks associated with a later-in-life pregnancy, such as an increase in susceptibility for suffering a miscarriage, having a premature child, and having a child with deformities. So usually, delaying childbirth for too long is not recommended.
Alternatively, research shows that delaying childbirth just the right amount is associated with women worrying less about their pregnancy, being more positive about parenting, and having an overall more positive attitude towards their children.
“When estimating the consequences of the rising maternal age it’s important to consider both the physical and psychosocial pros and cons,” says Professor Dion Sommer, co-author of the study.
Previous research has already shown that children of older mothers are better off psychosocially during pregnancy and early childhood. This new study extends this knowledge and indicates that the advantages for children of older mothers are seen even in their school years — regardless of social background, education level, and income level.
The study followed almost 5000 Denmark children, and found that at the ages of 7 and 11 children of older mothers had significantly fewer behavioral, social, and emotional problems. Some benefits were seen in 15-year-old children of older mothers, albeit these benefits were not as pronounced as in the younger age groups. The study also found that older mothers generally scold and punish their children less.
The researchers believe that children of older mothers are better off due to the fact that their mothers are usually in more stable relationships, have better access to maternal resources, and have an increased psychological maturity level.
“We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people and thrive better emotionally themselves. That’s why psychological maturity may explain why older mothers do not scold and physically discipline their children as much. This style of parenting can thereby contribute to a positive psychosocial environment which affects the children’s upbringing.”
Today, the average age in which a woman becomes pregnant in Denmark is 30.9 years.