Children of youngest, oldest moms at higher risk for developmental issues

THURSDAY, May 3, 2018 — Children with the youngest and oldest mothers may be at increased risk for developmental vulnerabilities, a new study reports.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 100,000 children and found that overall, 21 percent of them had at least one developmental vulnerability at age 5.

The rate was highest (40 percent) among those born to mothers age 15 and younger. It then steadily decreased to the lowest rate (17 percent) among children born to mothers ages 30 to 35, and then rose to 24 percent among children born to mothers ages 35 to 45.

Social and economic disadvantages accounted for at least half the increased risk of developmental vulnerabilities among children born to young mothers, according to the authors of the study, published recently in the journal PLOS Medicine.

“To our knowledge, this study is the largest scale evidence internationally on the relationship between maternal age at childbirth — across the whole distribution of maternal ages — and early childhood development,” Kathleen Falster, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues wrote.

“Further research to better understand the mechanisms that underlie the elevated risk of developmental vulnerability … may inform policies and interventions to promote positive child development across the population,” the researchers added in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on child development.

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