Late pregnancies are good, at least for the kids. At least that’s what scientists are now telling us.
If you want successful children, who also happen to be taller and healthier, then have them later in life. A new study has suggested that the benefits of late pregnancy outweigh the biological risks in babies born to older mothers.
The study conducted by Mikko Myrskyla, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) and his colleague Kieron Barclay at the London School of Economics found that children of older mothers are healthier, taller and obtain more education than the children of younger mothers.
The reason is that in industrialised countries educational opportunities are increasing, and people are getting healthier by the year. In other words, it pays off to be born later.
The MPIDR-study shows that despite the risks associated with childbearing at older ages, which are attributable to aging of the reproductive system, these risks are either counterbalanced, or outweighed, by the positive changes to the environment in the period during which the mother delayed her childbearing.
Researchers used data from over 1.5 million Swedish men and women born between 1960 and 1991 and found that when mothers delayed childbearing to older ages, even as old as 40 or older, they had children who were taller, had better grades in high school, and were more likely to go to university.
“We need to develop a different perspective on advanced maternal age. Expectant parents are typically well aware of the risks associated with late pregnancy, but they are less aware of the positive effects” said Myrskyla.
The study is published in Population and Development Review.
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