Association Between Maternal Age at Childbirth and Child and Adult Outcomes in the Offspring

Young maternal age at childbearing (≤19 years) is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction, infant mortality, and child under-nutrition. These associations result from behavioral, social, and biological factors. Younger mothers might breastfeed for a shorter duration than older mothers and be behaviorally immature and therefore less able to attend to their infant’s needs. They tend to have lower socioeconomic status, less schooling, and less stable partnerships than older mothers. If still growing, their nutritional needs compete with those of the fetus.

Advanced maternal age (≥35 years) is associated with increased stillbirths, preterm births, intrauterine growth restriction, as well as young maternal age, and chromosomal abnormalities. Again, these consequences result from multiple factors. In some settings, older mothers have lower socioeconomic status, less schooling, and higher parity, whereas in others they are educated women who have delayed pregnancy for career reasons. Older mothers are at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and associated pregnancy complications.

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