Women who give birth in their 50s lay foundations for ‘traumatised’ children
Women who have babies in their 50s could be ‘‘traumatising’’ their children, experts have said.
Children may not cope with looking after frail, aged parents or be able to deal with their early death, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Denver was told.
Dr Julianne Zweifel, a clinical psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said: ‘‘Surveys show the drive to be a mother is so strong, they don’t think about the problems their child will face until after the birth.’’
This ‘‘slippery slope’’ could eventually lead to an increase in women having babies in their 60s, she said.
‘‘The studies suggest it is traumatic for a child to lose a parent at a young age. Additionally, the emotional impact of being a caregiver to an ageing adult can be devastating. If you are a teenager, you are not developmentally prepared to deal with that anguish or responsibility,’’ she said.
In the UK, there has been a steady rise in babies born to older mothers in the past 15 years. According to the Office for National Statistics, women aged
45-49 had 705 babies in 2001, rising to 2,048 in 2016. The 50-54-yearolds had 53 babies in 2001, rising to 218 in 2016. Those aged 55 and over had two babies in 2001, rising to 20 in 2016.
Dr Julia Woodward, director of psychological services at the Duke Fertility Centre in North Carolina, said: ‘‘I am worried about the [older] woman’s risks of post-natal depression.
‘‘And what is it like going through menopause with a preschooler? What is it like to be enforcing a midnight curfew for your high school senior when you are pushing 70?
‘‘What is it like for that child, who is having to alter and delay their own life plans. They cannot backpack across Europe this summer because they are going to want to stay home and get Mum through that hip replacement.’’
She said studies showed that children of older parents worry about them dying, and them finding their bodies, as well as being upset that they might have fewer years with their parents.
And not only were parents exhausted looking after a newborn, later on they felt they could not fit in with other, younger mothers due to the age gap.
– Telegraph Group
‘‘Surveys show the drive to be a mother is so strong, they don’t think about the problems their child will face until after the birth.’’
Dr Julianne Zweifel, University of Wisconsin, Madison