ROSTOCK, Germany, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The theory that mothers who get pregnant later in life have children who are less healthy as adults is challenged by a study, German researchers say.
Mikko Myrskyla of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, said many believed that children born to older mothers had more health problems as adults because the body of the mother had already degenerated due to physiological effects such as poorer oocyte quality or a weakened placenta.
Myrskyla and colleagues used data from 18,000 U.S. children and their mothers and found children born to mothers ages 35-44 were no less healthy later in life than those whose mothers delivered between ages 25-34, although higher maternal age was associated with greater risk of miscarriage and conditions such as Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.
The study, published in the journal Demography, found the two most crucial factors for offspring adult health turned out to be the mother's education and the number of years the mother and child were alive at the same time.
The earlier a child lost her mother the worse her health was as an adult. This could be due to psychological effects accompanying the experience of losing a mother early, or because the time during which she could support her child economically and emotionally was shorter, Myrskyla said.