People rarely talk about the benefits of having a baby after 35. Instead, we often hear only about the worries about pregnancy later in life. This makes some sense as knowing that we have a ticking biological clock can be really scary. And it’s true that the number of eggs people with ovaries have decreases as they age. Pregnancy over 35 also comes with a higher risk of certain complications like hypertension or diabetes for you and chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome for your baby.
However, there are also a number of compelling benefits to having a baby after 35. In fact, while there is no one right time for pregnancy, there are a number of advantages to postponing parenthood.
Potential Benefits of Having a Baby After 35
There is no perfect age to have kids—and it’s always a good idea to consult with a health care provider about your family-building plans to make sure that you’re aware of any health issues you should consider. But the good news is that more and more research reveals that there are some surprising perks of being an older parent—for both the parent and the child.
Having a baby after 35 may boost your brain power
Studies show that having kids later in life can make you mentally sharper as you age. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society tested 830 middle-aged women to determine whether there was a link between having a baby at a later age and brain power.
The researchers found that those who had their last child after the age of 35 had sharper cognition and verbal memory post-menopause. They also found that people who had their first child after the age of 24 were better at problem-solving than their peers who had children younger.1
You’re likely to be happier and less stressed
Research shows that older parents tend to feel less stress and more contentment and joy after having children than their younger counterparts. In fact, according to the authors of a 2017 review: “Existing studies show that happiness increases around and after childbirth among older mothers, whereas for younger mothers the effect does not exist or is short-lived.”2
Your child may have a reduced risk of injury
Parents of any age aim to protect their children as best they can. However, several studies point to the fact that a child’s risk of experiencing an unintentional injury that requires medical attention declines with increasing maternal age, possibly because older parents are more aware of dangers and/or are better equipped to guard against them.
One study in particular, published in the British Medical Journal in 2012, found that at age 3 a child’s risk of unintentional injury declined from 36.6% for moms aged 20 to 28.6% for moms aged 40.3 Another more recent study out of Japan, which analyzed the risks of unintentional injuries and hospital admissions at 18 and 66 months according to maternal age, reached the same conclusion.4
“Although the exact reasons for fewer injuries aren’t known, it is clear that one health benefit of being born to an older mother is a decreased likelihood of experiencing an unintentional injury,” says Patricia Salber, M.D., founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In.
You might be more emotionally prepared
There’s an undoubted sense of maturity that comes along with age. (Just think about how much you’ve changed since your teens!) Research suggests that maturity plays a role in better parenting, too.
In a 2017 study published in the journal European Journal of Development, Dutch researchers looked at the psychosocial development of two groups of children at ages 7, 11, and 15. One group was born to moms older than 31 and the other was born to moms younger than 31. When analyzing their psychosocial development, they were surprised to find that older moms were less likely to scold or physically discipline their kids.5
“Overall, the children of older moms were better behaved, well socialized, and emotionally healthy in their pre-teen years,” says Dr. Salber. “In other words, older moms’ more relaxed parenting behaviors appear to have paid off for these youngsters.”
Your child is likely to be more tech-savvy and better educated
The longer you wait to have children, the more likely your child will grow up understanding more advanced levels of technology.
“Children of older parents benefit from the educational, technological, and social progress that has been made during the years of delayed childbearing,” says Kameelah Phillips, M.D., OB-GYN in New York City. “A Swedish study noted that when these advances are considered, children of older parents tend to be healthier and more educated.”
You might be more financially stable and healthier
Countless research backs the theory that health outcomes are often tied to how much money is in the bank.6 If you have extra childless years, you’re more likely to finish up your degree and put time into developing your professional career. So, it makes sense that you’re more likely to earn a higher salary than a younger parent who had a child before establishing their career.
“Studies show that children of older mothers stay in the educational system longer, do better on standardized tests, and are more likely to go to college than their peers born to young moms,” says Dr. Salber. “The effect of improved outcomes related to socioeconomic status likely affects the health outcomes of the offspring throughout their lives.”
You may live even longer
Having kids later might make you live longer. “Some people think that having babies late in life either means you won’t have the energy to keep up with young kids or worse, you won’t be around for their major life events, like getting married or having their own children,” says Dr. Salber. “But research finds that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
In fact, a 2015 study published in Menopause found that women who have children after the age of 33 were twice as likely to live to age 95 compared to women who had their last child before age 30.7 And that’s something worth considering!
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