Older women make better mothers

Women who have children later in life make better mothers, a study has found.

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They are more likely than younger women to be financially secure, in stable relationships and happier to put their jobs on hold because they have already achieved many career goals. Older mothers even tend to enjoy better health and live longer.

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The findings appear in a book by Professor Elizabeth Gregory, who is director of women’s studies at the University of Houston in Texas. She said: “I have found an overwhelming number and range of reasons why what I call the ‘new later mothers’ are absolutely right to delay motherhood.

“For one thing, they have a stronger family focus rather than trying to juggle priorities because they have achieved many of their personal and career goals.

“They also have more financial power because new later mothers have established careers and higher salaries. And they they have more career experience and their management skills often translate directly into managing a household and advocating for their children.”

The average age at which women in Britain are giving birth has slowly risen to 29 while there has been a much sharper increase in the numbers choosing to start families in their late 30s and early 40s.

Professor John Mirowsky, an expert on the issue from Texas University in Austin, believes the prime age for childbearing to maximise maternal health and longevity is between 34 and 40. He said: “While younger women are more fertile and biologically fit, older mothers tend to be more mature and less likely to engage in risky behaviour, and they are more settled educationally, financially and emotionally.”

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The American claims are unlikely to end the age debate, however. As well as the possibility of growing infertile, older mothers are said to face an increased risk of health complications during pregnancy, while their babies are more likely to have conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.

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