Mother’s Age at Birth May Influence Symptoms of Depression In Daughters
Researchers working out of the University of Western Australia found that the daughters of women who gave birth after the age of 30 were more likely to be plagued by anxiety issues later in life than those born to younger mothers.
The Study’s Findings
The study examined data provided by the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study of 1,200 pregnant women. Over the course of the next 25 years, researchers followed the development of the children of the 1,200 women and discovered that girls conceived by women who were at least 30 years of age when they gave birth had much higher rates of being afflicted by severe stress, anxiety and depression. Oddly enough, the results of the study were not affected by the age of the father at the time of conception and male children did not develop anxiety issues at the same rate as their female counterparts.
The Social Factor
Although the researchers were not able to draw any definitive conclusions from their findings, they did posit some theories. One of which was that the age difference between parent and child is so vast that what should be a strong bond between mother and child is strained by their cultural differences. Jessica Tearne, the doctoral student who was the lead author of the study noted, “It may be that a 30 or more year age difference between mother and daughter leads to a significant difference in the value systems that may cause tensions in the relationship, leading to stress, worry and sadness in the child, particularly during the transition to young adulthood.”
The Age Factor
Another theory put forth by the researchers is that their subjects had higher rates of anxiety because of the age of their mothers. Seeing as women who gave birth in thier 30s in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s would now be in her late 50s. It’s at that age that women become afflicted by age-related illnesses, such as osteoporosis, incontinence and hearing loss. Having to care for a parent with debilitating health problems can place significant mental, physical and financial on young adults who are suddenly put in the role of caretaker.
However, as Monique Robinson, another one of the study’s authors, pointed out, just because these women are afflicted by a great deal of stress, that doesn’t mean that they don’t possess the resilience to preservere. “It could be that the offspring of older mothers are at risk for a few more symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, but that does not necessarily mean they will experience a diagnosable mental disorder.”