There are pros and cons of giving birth at any age. In your 20’s your fertility is high and your body is much more resilient to the physical demands of pregnancy. In your 30’s you feel more established in your career and feel ready to start a family. In your 40’s you have a strong self identity and in many cases less financial worries. Nevertheless, is there an ideal time that would benefit the baby?
A recent study, published in the journal Biodemography and Social Biology, found that babies born to mothers in their 30’s will be healthier and more intelligent than some babies born to mothers who are in their 20’s during childbirth and especially babies born to mothers who are in their 40’s when they give birth.
Researchers from the London School of Economics looked at data from more than 18,000 children enrolled in the Millennium Cohort Study and tried to understand the impact a mother’s age has on the well-being and intelligence of her children. They were able to determine babies born by 30-somethings had the highest scores on cognitive tests at age 5.
Although you might be thinking the reason behind this is genetics or age, the research suggests that the benefits have more to do with the mothers social and financial standing. In fact, eighty-five percent of women over the age 35 are married, which makes it more likely that they have their partner’s financial and emotional support.
“First-time mothers in their 30’s are, for example, likely to be more educated, have higher incomes, are more likely to be in stable relationships, have healthier lifestyles, seek prenatal care earlier, and have planned their pregnancies,” explained Dr. Alice Goisis. She added women in this age group are also less likely to smoke and more likely to breastfeed and read to their children, all of which contribute to the child’s increase in intelligence.
Of course, there are downsides of waiting to start a family as well. Chances of miscarriages, low fertility and birth defects continue to increase with a mothers age. In some cases, 40 something parents reported that they had less energy to keep up with the parenting lifestyle resulting in higher rates of obesity among their children. However, other more optimistic parents in their 40’s argued that having young children keeps them active and healthy.
All in all, you have to do what is right for you and your situation. Regardless of age, if you are confident you are ready to start a family then by all means go for it. If you are not ready then having the emotional maturity to wait will most likely benefit your future baby. It seems to me that as long as you do the right things during pregnancy, read to your children and maybe throw in a little Mozart, who knows, you may have the next baby Einstein.
Then again, if you’re a mother in her 30’s secretly thinking “Woohoo!”, it might be time for a little victory dance.
Do you have any tips to help your baby’s intellect? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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