How Do the Children of Much Older Parents Fare?
September 29, 2011
by Sasha Emmons
This week’s issue of New York Magazine features a Demi Moore-style cover, but with a gray-haired grandma type replacing the ageless actress. The cover line asks what many might be thinking: “Is She Just Too Old for This?”
Writer Lisa Miller, who had her own child at age 40, attempts to move past the knee-jerk reaction most people have to that photo (to sum it up bluntly: uh, freak) to investigate how the children of much older mothers—we’re talking moms around or even past the averages age of menopause, 50—do in life.
Plus: Pregnancy at 20, 30 and 40
The odds are stacked against them in the womb, since miscarriage, preterm labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, autism, childhood cancer, autoimmune disease and neuropsychiatric disorders have all been linked to advanced maternal age.
But assuming kids are born healthy, the outlook is actually pretty bright. Yes, they are likely to lose their parents before they have their own children. A sociologist who interviewed children of older parents found that they grow up being more fearful of their parents’ and their own mortality.
Plus: 23-year-old Becomes World’s Youngest Grandmother
However, since older parents often have more time to engage with their kids, and more money (they could afford those pricey fertility treatments, after all), their kids score better on cognitive tests. While anyone who has small children might wonder how a 50-something could possibly have the energy to keep up, older parents report less parental stress, and have been shown to live longer.
At what age did you start your family? Do you think you were too young, too old, or just right?