Women over 50 who give birth can be just as good as younger women when it comes to motherhood, say researchers from the University of California, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicines. There is no evidence that women in their fifties experience higher levels of stress or experience greater health risks, compared to younger women who give birth.
The researchers examined data on 150 mothers who had received fertility treatment between 1992-2004. They gave birth in their thirties, forties and fifties.
The women were surveyed to determine their physical and mental functioning and parental stress. Their findings revealed that the women in their 50s were not less capable as parents – neither did they experience higher levels of stress than the other women.
The researchers suggest that public prejudice is the problem, not poor capacity on the part of older mothers. A large percentage of the older mothers in this study had younger partners.
Team leader, Dr Anne Steiner, said “The conclusion from this study, though it is limited and of small size, is that if we look from the perspective of stress and physical and mental functioning, it doesn’t seem like we can restrict parenting based on these reasons.”
Comment by the Editor of Medical News Today
The results of this research will be more convincing when larger studies are made over a longer period. The physical and mental strains of parenthood start during conception and continue for a very long time – at least 18 years and 9 months, almost two decades. If one compared two groups, for example, one thousand 55 year-old women who gave birth, to one thousand 30 year-old women who gave birth, and monitored them for 18 years, what would the difference be? Over those 18 years we would also have to find out how well their children thrived, compared to the younger mothers’ children.
“Older Mothers: Physical Stress, Psychological Stress and Outcomes”
62nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today