Children of youngest and oldest mothers at higher risk of developmental vulnerabilities

Maternal age and offspring developmental vulnerability.


According to a new study by the UNSW scientists, kids born to adolescent moms have the increased danger of developmental vulnerabilities at age 5, to a great extent because of social and financial weakness. This risk decreases relentlessly with each extra year of a mother’s age up to 30 years, then increases slightly after 35 years and more seasoned – to a level like the hazard for youngsters destined to moms in their mid-twenties.

The examination gathered information from the Australian Early Developmental Census for 99,530 five-year-old kids in their first year of school in NSW in 2009 or 2012, and additionally, their wellbeing and statistic information gathered during childbirth. For the Census, teachers answer questions concerning a child’s improvement crosswise over five zones: physical well-being and prosperity; emotional maturity; social competence; language and cognitive abilities; and relational abilities and general information.

Overall, 21% of the children in the study were identified as developmentally vulnerable in at least one of the five areas.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, is the largest ever carried out on early child development across the full range of maternal age.

Study first author, Dr. Kathleen Falster of the UNSW Centre for Big Data Research in Health, and the Australian National University said, “We found that the lowest risk of developmental vulnerability – 17% – was among kids born to mums aged about 30 to 35. The highest risk – 40% – was for children of mothers 15 years or younger, and this was mostly underpinned by social and economic disadvantage.”

“The increased risks for the babies of older mothers, such as premature birth and low birth weight, are well known, but until now, there has been limited large-scale evidence on about the developmental outcomes of their children beyond infancy.”

“The good news from our study is that the vast majority of kids born to mums aged 35 and older fare well. The elevated risk of developmental vulnerability we identified is relatively small.”

“The risk of 17% to 24% for the children born to mothers aged 36 to 45 years is similar to that of children born to mothers in their twenties.”

The recent trend around the world for women in high-income countries to delay childbearing was reflected in the age range of the mothers in the study. Only 4.4% of children in the study were born to mothers aged less than 20 years, while one in five children were born to mothers aged 35 years and older.

The early years of life are basic to a person’s long-haul wellbeing and prosperity, and the examination features the open doors accessible to advance better formative results in early life.

Dr Falster said, “While children born to teenage mothers may have the highest risk of developmental vulnerability, few children are born to teenage mothers.”

“Our research suggests that policies and programs that support disadvantaged mothers of all ages, including young mothers, may reduce developmental vulnerabilities, supporting more kids to reach their potential.”

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