LIFESTYLE

Postponing Pregnancy Until The Age Of 35 Could Help You Have Smarter Kids, Says A New Study

Do the risks outweigh the advantages?

15/02/2017 1:42 PM IST | Updated 15/02/2017 7:16 PM IST
M_a_y_a via Getty Images

The next time someone hints at the notorious biological clock to prod you along on the path of motherhood, shut them up with the results of this joyous research: compared to 40 years ago, kids born to women who delay pregnancy until the age of 35 are smarter and more likely to be healthy, better educated and get better jobs in later life than those born to their younger counterparts.

Women who opt for later pregnancies are usually more educated, with serious careers and less likely to smoke during pregnancy.

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, compared the cognitive abilities of children from three previous UK studies — in 1958, 1970 and 2001 — and found that while children born to younger mothers in 1958 and 70 were smarter than those of older women, in 2001, the results were completely the opposite.

On further analysing the mothers' social and economic situations, the researchers concluded that the difference was due to the mothers' positions in life — women who opt for later pregnancies are usually more educated, with serious careers and less likely to smoke during pregnancy.

A 2016 study found that children who were born to mothers over the age of 40 were much more likely to be more educated and successful than earlier-born siblings.

In the past, there have been several researches that link greater intelligence in kids with late motherhood. A well-documented study of 15 lakh Swedes published in April 2016, found that children who were born to mothers over the age of 40 were much more likely to be more educated and successful than earlier-born siblings, rekindling debates about the connection between birth order and intelligence. While Sweden, with its completely free education programmes might not be representative of the rest of the world, US and UK have been mirroring a similar trend. Another study by the University of California San Diego found that women who had their first child after the age of 25 were more likely to live upto the age of 90.

There are proven health risks associated with late pregnancies — difficulty in conceiving, Down's syndrome and autism.

But this research is the "first to look at how the cognitive abilities of children born to older mothers have changed over time and what might be responsible for this shift," the study's lead author, Alice Goisis from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences said in a statement.

Even so, while this might be great news for women who aren't quite ready to pause their ascent up the career ladder yet, there are proven health risks associated with late pregnancies — difficulty in conceiving as well significantly higher risk of the baby being born with Down's syndrome and autism.

So while there is a case to be made for and against for both early and late motherhood, studies like these go a long way in reinforcing that advanced maternal age is not all bad, and you're not committing a sin against your progeny by delaying motherhood for a few years.

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