Contrary to popular belief, having a child after you turn 25 is better for your health when you turn 40.
Linking women’s health at midlife to when they had their first child and to their marital history, the Ohio State University researchers found that women who had their first child in their early 20s didn’t report better health at midlife than those who had their first baby as a teen.
Conversely, results showed that women, who were of age 25 to 35 when they had their first birth, tended to report better health at age 40 than the younger groups.
Lead author Kristi Williams said: “The assumption has been that ‘of course, it is better to wait.’ But at least when it comes to the later health of the mother, that isn’t necessarily true.”
She added that people still need to be concerned that women who are having births in their early 20s may face more health challenges as they reach middle age than those who wait longer.
The study also counters another common assumption that women who have a baby outside of marriage will be healthier if they get married. In fact, the study found that single black women who had a child and later married actually reported worse health at midlife than those who had a baby but stayed single.
This result suggests that public policies encouraging marriage among single mothers may have some unintended negative consequences, Williams said.
The study appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
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