Children of older mothers are ‘more intelligent’
February 16, 2017 1 comment
Children born to older mothers do better on intelligence tests than those born to younger women.
Researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) made this claim following their analysis of three British long-term studies: one from 1958, another from 1970 and one from 2001.
During each of these studies, children’s intelligence was tested when they were around ten or 11 years old. In 2001, those who were born to mothers between 35 and 39 years old scored higher than children whose mothers were between the ages of 25 and 29. Researchers noted that this was a significant shift, as the opposite was true in both the 1958 and 1970 studies.
The changing circumstances of older mothers could explain this reversal according to the research authors. Women who give birth later in life tend to have more advantages than their younger counterparts. They can be better educated, have an established professional career and be less likely to smoke during pregnancy. In the past this was not the case.
First-time mothers are also older now than they were in previous decades. As first born children receive more attention and resources from parents than their brothers and sisters they can develop an intellectual edge over them. Older mothers in the past were usually having their third or fourth child, who would receive less focused parental attention.
Lead author Dr Alice Goisis of LSE said research like this was “essential to better understand how these children [of older mothers] are doing”, especially as “there has been a significant increase in the average age of women having their first child in industrialised countries” since the 1980s.
In November, the Office for National Statistics revealed that the majority of births in England and Wales now involve parents in their 30s.
The LSE/MPIDR study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Photo by ckmck via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.
February 16, 2017
Categories: Family Life