*MKILETEWA HAPA NA FLORA LYIMO *Children born to older mothers appear to have a healthier start in life as they are less likely to be admitted to hospital and more likely to have vital immunisation jabs, say researchers.
The study also found children with older mothers experienced faster language development and suffered fewer social and emotional difficulties before the age of five.
Researchers from University College Londonanalysed data from more than 78,000 children born in England between 2000 and 2002. The mothers were between 13 and 57 years of age.
Although there has been substantial research on young mothers and childhood development, there is little evidence of any effects of older mothers.
So the team looked at outcomes including child weight, accidents, hospital admissions and language development.
Rates were adjusted for several factors, including child’s sex, age, birth weight, father’s age, family income and social class.
Results showed that both the risk of accidents and hospital admissions decreased with increasing maternal age.
The risk of a nine-month-old child with a 20-year-old mother having an accident was 9.5 per cent. This fell to 6.1% for a mother of 40 and the decline continued for three and five-year-olds.
Similarly, at nine months, the risk of a child with a 20 year old mother being hospitalised was 16 % which fell to 10.7% for a mother of 40.
Babies were also 98.1% likely to have had their immunisations if their mother was 40 compared to 94.6% if their mother was half that age.
The authors say that older mothers tend to be more educated, have higher incomes and be married - all factors which are associated with greater child well-being.
They concluded that the 'findings are noteworthy given the continuing increase in average age at maternity'.