Contrary to belief, a new study has claimed that children born to older women are smarter than those born to younger mothers.
Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the UK have found evidence that delaying pregnancy till age 35 may actually make children smarter with evidence suggesting that children born to older mothers today more likely to perform better in cognitive ability tests than those born to younger mothers.
Researchers point out that older mothers today are much more educated as well as independent that less likely to smoke during pregnancy and are established in professional occupations. This was not necessarily true in the past. Today an increasing number of women are having their first child at an older age and, on average, first-born children perform better on cognitive ability tests, researchers said.
This is possibly because they receive more resources and attention from parents than siblings born after them. In contrast, in the past, older mothers were likely to be giving birth to their third or fourth child, they said.
Researchers, including those from Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Germany, analysed data from three UK longitudinal studies.
In the 1958 and 1970 cohorts children born to mothers aged 25-29 scored higher than children born to mothers aged 35-39. In the 2001 cohort this result was reversed, researchers said.
Although the results were similar for the children born to mothers over 40, the sample was smaller which means the findings should be treated with caution.
When the researchers took the mothers’ social and economic characteristics into account, the differences across cohorts disappeared, researchers said.
This indicates that the changing characteristics of women who have children at an older age were highly likely to be the reason for the cohort differences, they said.