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Associations between maternal older age, family environment and parent and child wellbeing in families using assisted reproductive techniques to conceive

Boivin, Jacky ORCID:, Rice, Frances ORCID:, Hay, Dale F. ORCID:, Harold, Gordon Thomas, Lewis, Allyson, van den Bree, Marianne Bernadette ORCID: and Thapar, Anita ORCID: 2009. Associations between maternal older age, family environment and parent and child wellbeing in families using assisted reproductive techniques to conceive. Social Science & Medicine 68 (11) , pp. 1948-1955. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.02.036

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Maternal age effects on parenting and family outcomes are of increasing interest because of the demographic shift toward older maternal age at first birth. Maternal age is also of interest because of the greater use of assisted reproductive techniques (ART) to bypass age-related infertility in couples trying to conceive late in the reproductive life cycle of the woman. The aim of the present study was to investigate maternal age effects associated with delayed parenting by comparing families of mothers who gave birth at a younger (<31 years) or older (>38 years) age and to ascertain whether associations were linear associations by comparing these groups to women who had conceived in between these ages (i.e., >31 and <38 years). All children (4–11 year olds) were first-born and conceived using ART. Participants were recruited from one of 20 fertility clinics and mothers (n = 642) and fathers (n = 439) completed a postal questionnaire about demographic and reproductive characteristics, family environment as well as parent and child wellbeing. Our results demonstrate that parenthood via assisted conception later in the reproductive life cycle is not associated with a negative impact on child wellbeing. Despite maternal age-group differences on demographic (education, income) and reproductive characteristics (bleeding during pregnancy, caesarean rate, breast feeding), and parental warmth and depressive symptoms, child wellbeing was similar across mother age groups. We conclude that the parenting context is different for older mother families (more depressive symptoms in mothers and fathers, less expressed warmth in the couple) but that this difference is not associated with child wellbeing in early and middle childhood.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Healthcare Sciences
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: In vitro fertilisation (IVF); Middle childhood; Age; Assisted conception; Older mother; Family environment; Gamete donation; UK; Delayed parenting
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0277-9536
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2024 16:59

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