Daughters, but not the sons, of women who give birth at age 30 or above are more likely to experience symptoms of depression as young adults, a new study says.
“This study suggests that older maternal age is associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in young adult females,” said lead author Jessica Tearne from the University of Western Australia.
The researchers analysed data from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study. From 1989 to 1991, pregnant women were recruited into this study, and provided psychological and demographic information.
The resulting offspring then underwent psychological assessment at various ages over the next 23 years.
The researchers looked at self-reported levels of various symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress from 1,200 of the offspring at age 20 and compared them with the age of the mother and father at the time the children were born.
Daughters whose mothers were age 30 to 34 when they gave birth, reported significantly higher levels of stress and those whose mothers were over age 35 at the time of birth had significantly higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety compared with daughters whose mothers were under
While five per cent of the mothers were under age 20 when they gave birth, there was no effect for giving birth in that age group.
The fathers’ age at the time of birth also had no effect, and there was no effect found for sons. The study appeared in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.