Study: Some Advantages to Becoming a Mom Later in Life

The average age of first-time mothers is on the rise in the United States. The average age of first-time mothers is on the rise in the United States. One study suggests that this might not be such a bad thing.

In 1970, the mean age of a first-time mother in the United States was 21 years old. Fast forward nearly five decades and that number has gone up substantially. Now, CDC data suggests that women are having their first child at around 28 years old.

While these numbers partially reflect the steady decline in the teenage birth rate, it is true that women are delaying having children. The booming fertility business coupled with a societal shift in values has allowed women to focus on their careers, pushing back establishing a family. For others, the choice is more practical.  Financial considerations coupled with poor maternity leave policies in the United States have some women holding off pregnancy until a later date.

Certainly, there are some serious considerations for women who put off motherhood, as the professional body of Gynecologists and Obstatricians (AGOG) has adamantly pointed out. Women over the age of 35 are considered “advanced maternal age” and that carries increased, and potentially life-threatening, risks to both mother and child.

Related: Average Age of New Dads Almost 4 Years Older Than In Past

However, there are also some advantages to becoming a mother later in life, as a study conducted by researchers at the University of California has revealed.

The researchers evaluated 820 naturally post-menopausal women using a cognitive assessment. The volunteers were given several tests that included verbal memory, such as remembering a list of words, psychomotor speed, planning, visual perception, and attention and concentration. Researchers then looked at several reproductive variables, including age at pregnancy, first period, and menopause. They also looked at the overall reproductive period, including the number of pregnancies.

The study found that women who had their last child after the age of 35 had better verbal memory, or memory for words and verbal items. The researchers believe that the surge of pregnancy hormones positively impact brain function and chemistry, which had lasting effects if the pregnancy occurred later in life.

“Based on the findings, we would certainly not recommend that women wait until they’re 35 to close their family, but the study provides strong evidence that there is a positive association between later age at last pregnancy and late-life cognition,” lead author Roksana Karim said.

Related: Harsh Parenting Backfires on Parents 

Mothers may not be the only ones benefiting from having children later in life. A large Dutch study found that children born to older mothers thrive better in life. According to the research conducted on nearly 5,000 mothers, older maternal age was associated with less frequent yelling and harsh punishments on children.  Those children also had fewer social, emotional, and behavioral issues.


2 thoughts on “Study: Some Advantages to Becoming a Mom Later in Life”

  1. Yes, a woman who is older may be more mature and settled in a career.

    However pregnancy and childbirth may be harder, so whatever financial gain the mother has will be spent on fertility treatments. Older adults have enjoyed spending their money on themselves and may harbor resentment against money spent on a child. I have been told this by friends who ultimately decided against any children.

    These women may also use nannies and housekeepers to do their work as mothers.

    As an older mother myself, my son told me he hated having older parents. Looking back, it is an advantage to be a younger parent and have more energy to care for a child; that is truly a wonderful gift. There may not be more money, but the time and attention given to a child by healthier more energetic parents is a value that few factor into these studies.

  2. My son told me he hated having older parents. My husband/his father died before he was grown. I did not have the energy I had in my early 20s, but hey, I had a career. Any skills children are noted to have because of older parents are quickly drained by parents who are too tired, ill or away working. Many children with older parents have nannies or housekeepers attending to their needs.

    Many of my friends told me that they finally decided not to have children because they enjoyed spending their money on themselves.

    Give your children the gift of your time, energy, and youth. LIfe is too short.

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