Children born to mothers of over 40 are healthier and brighter than those of younger women and less likely have accidents or need hospital care to a study has found.

This latest research may be a piece of good news for the rising number of women who are delaying motherhood.

Previous studies have highlighted the growing infertility rates for older women and the greater risk of them developing diabetes and pre-eclampsia (a disorder of widespread vascular endothelial malfunction and vasospasm that occurs after 20 weeks? of pregnancy).

The research appears to show advantages for older mothers once they have given birth, possibly due to their greater experience and maturity.

Researchers at the Institute of Child Health, University College London and Birkbeck College, London, said their findings showed older mothers can make better parents.

Head of the team,Dr Alastair Sutcliffe who worked on the study, said negative publicity surrounding the rise of older mothers was based on the physical risks of pregnancy and childbirth.

According to him, there is a clear evidence that there are more desirable outcomes for children of older mothers compared with younger ages, adding that older women?s children are probably better off.

In the above study,the team looked at 1,100 children born to women aged 40 and over, compared with 38,000 children born to younger women. The children?s ages ranged from nine months to five years.

Children of older mothers were less likely to be in accidents or need hospital admission, and were no more at risk of obesity.
While older mothers might generally be more prone to risks possibly because they are less active and unable to run after their children, they may also be better at spotting and avoiding potentially risky situations, the study revealed.

Dr. Abraham Inneh, a gynecologist explains: ?Child bearing is a function of reproductive cycle and how fertile a woman is. The wellbeing and health of the child depends on maternal health, genetic make up, environmental and social economic status?.

Basically as a woman gets older her reproductive cycle wanes, i.e there is reduction in ovulation which entails production of eggs, there is also reduction in menstrual flow which is also part of d reproductive cycle, he said.

There are a lot of things to consider when a woman decides to delay child birth till the age of over 40 because there are advantages and disadvantages because old age in a woman brings about decline in the quantity of eggs produced, which could lead to infertility, even if fertile, old age also brings about decline in d quality of eggs produced, leading to abnormal babies with chromosomal defects,Inneh points out.

According to the gynecologist, women of old maternal age are at risk of having miscarriages, premature deliveries and macrocosmic babies. However with d advent of modern and technology based medicine, these effects of age on child bearing as well as health of the child are negotiable.

Inneh further explains that by assisted reproductive techniques such as Invitro Fertilisation (IVF), older women can get pregnant, and by technology based screening the health and wellbeing of baby and mother can be monitored. Monitoring include ensuring adequate nutrition, environmental and socioeconomic stability.

He emphasised that there are risks associated with babies of older women because in some cases their children stand the risk of genetic and chromosomal abnormalities like down syndrome and kleinfeter syndrome (a chromosomal condition that affects male sexual development. Males with this condition typically have small testes that do not produce enough testosterone, which is the hormone that directs male sexual development before birth and during puberty).

But if older mother?s pregnancy is well managed with the modern day and technology based medicine, studies have shown that their children get a better start in life than younger mothers babies.

One disadvantage of younger mothers? babies have is the fact that they are prone to illnesses and diseases in life because their mothers tend to be naive and most times ill prepared for pregnancy and child bearing,he stated.

In this situation, they suffer more from nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency, anemia, vitamin B-12 etc because they are naive with mother craft, he said.

Older mothers tend to be more dedicated to parenting than younger mothers as such their babies get adequate care and baby support, they are also more educated and more empowered economically to give their babies the basic needs.Their babies could be referred to as precious babies.


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