Here’s some evidence to counter all that chatter about your “biological clock”, Children born to older mothers thrive better in life, according to a March 2017 study published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Dutch researchers looked at children’s development at 7, 11, and 15 years old compared with their mothers’ ages and found that women who had kids later than the average age of 31 were less likely to scold or physically discipline their kids. Overall, their more mature and less emotional approach to parenting created children that were better behaved, well-socialized, and emotionally healthier in their pre-teen years.
Waiting to start a family has perks for middle-aged mamas, too. Findings in an April 2016 study published in the journal Population and Development Review suggest that children born to older parents are more likely to be highly educated — and taller, to boot.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the London School of Economics studied 1.5 million Swedish men and women born between 1960 and 1991. They found that people born to older mothers, including moms as old as 45, had a lot of advantages. They were taller and healthier, had more education, were more likely to attend college, and performed better on standardized tests than their siblings who were born first when their parents were younger.
Why do older moms have healthier and more educated kids? The researchers point to an overall improvement in society over the years, with better access to healthcare and education in the Western world. So the longer you wait to have a baby, the higher the chances life will be better for your little tot. Quartz notes that the study may be limited — Sweden is “an outlier” in the world because it offers free education through college, so more people in general get educated.
Overall, the study authors say that the benefits of waiting to have children are either equal to or maybe even outweigh the potential negative effects, like an increased risk for Down Syndrome and a potentially higher risk for diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and Alzheimer’s later in life. Of course it’s harder for moms to get pregnant at all as they age, but if they do get pregnant, their child might be ahead of the pack.
Plus, a November 2016 study shows that having a child later in life was linked to higher cognitive functioning and better memory in moms. Score! “We need to develop a different perspective on advanced maternal age,” Mikko Myrskylä, one of the researchers behind the April 2016 study, said in a statement. “Expectant parents are typically well aware of the risks associated with late pregnancy, but they are less aware of the positive effects.”