Older age for first baby may have psychological advantages

January 01, 0001

Older age for first baby may have psychological advantages

It is increasingly common for women in high- income countries to delay childbearing. The researchers from Australia and the UK aimed to describe the context of pregnancy for first-time mothers of different ages and examine relationships among maternal age at first birth, mode of conception and psychosocial wellbeing in pregnancy.

Older maternal age was associated with lower depression and anxiety symptoms, lower maternal-fetal attachment, greater psychological hardiness (resilience) and lower ratings of control in the partner relationship. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) conception, but not older maternal age, was associated with more pregnancy-focused anxiety.

The researchers concluded: "Women having their first baby when older appear to have some psychological advantages over their younger counterparts; they are more resilient, report their partners as less controlling and report lower symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy. However, women conceiving through ART have a more complex experience of pregnancy, simultaneously experiencing more pregnancy-focused anxiety and more intense emotional attachment to the fetus."

There are so many confounders here.

For the full abstract, click here.

Human Reproduction 26(4) April 2011
© The Author 2011
Age at first birth, mode of conception and psychological wellbeing in pregnancy: findings from the parental age and transition to parenthood Australia (PATPA) study. C.A. McMahon, J. Boivin, F.L. Gibson et al. Correspondence to Cathy McMahon: [email protected]

Category: W. Pregnancy/Childbirth/Family Planning. Keywords: maternal age, ART, conception, pregnancy, psychological wellbeing, structured interviews, questionnaires, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 26 April 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.