Mothers Older Than 50 Do Not Have Reduced Parenting Capacity

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Parenting and Motherhood after 50

Mothers who give birth after the age of 50 do not have reduced parenting capacity compared to younger mothers, a study led by Dr. Anne Z. Steiner from University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill has concluded.

Steiner, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine's department of obstetrics and gynecology, will present these findings Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans. Her study is believed to be the first to evalute parenting in women who conceive after age 50.

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In Steiner's study, conducted while she was at the University of Southern California, 49 women who conceived and delivered after age 50 with the help of UCS's assisted reproductive technology program were matched to women in their 40s and 30s who also conceived with the program's help. All 129 of these women were mailed questionnaires on parenting stress and physical and mental well-being.

Fifty percent of the women returned completed questionnaires. Their self-reported results showed that the women in their 50s had slightly lower physical functioning scores than the younger women, but the older women had higher mental functioning scores. There was no signifcant difference between the older and younger women in terms of overall parenting stress.

Steiner and co-author Dr. Richard J. Paulson concluded that their study does not support the hypothesis that mothers who conceive and give birth after age 50 have reduced parenting capacity compared to mothers in their 40s and 30s.

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