Research presented at today's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health conference has suggested that children born to mothers over 40 are healthier and brighter than those of younger women.

The offspring of older women are less likely to have accidents or need hospital care and more likely to have been vaccinated early, according to the study from the Institute of Child Health, University College London and Birkbeck College.

They will also develop a broader vocabulary from a young age and achieve higher scores in IQ tests in a range of measures up to the age of five.

Study lead Dr Alastair Sutcliffe said negative publicity surrounding the rise of older mothers was based on the physical risks of pregnancy and childbirth but argued that: "we have clear evidence that there are more desirable outcomes for children of older mothers compared with younger ages.

"We can reassure these older women that their children are probably better off. The big question is why. Older mothers appear to have good parenting skills, they may be less impulsive, calmer and have more life experience that better equips them for the role. More women are giving birth at older ages, this isn't going to go away, they are deferring motherhood for many reasons."

The Wellcome Foundation-funded study looked at 1,100 children aged nine months to five years, born to women aged 40 and over, compared with 38,000 children born to younger women in Britain.

The number of mothers who gave birth over the age of 40 has nearly doubled in recent years, increasing from 15,000 in 2000 to 27,000 in 2010.

Posted 22/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com