Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mother's age at birth may influence symptoms of depression in daughters

Public Release: 17-Nov-2015
Mother's age at birth may influence symptoms of depression in daughters
Father's age not a factor; effect not seen in sons, study says
American Psychological Association

The daughters, but not the sons, of women who give birth at age 30 or older are more likely to experience symptoms of depression as young adults, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.


While the exact cause of this relationship is not clear, Tearne said she suspects it is not necessarily biological. "One hypothesis is difficulties may occur in the mother-daughter relationship because of a large age difference between the two," said Tearne. "It may be that a 30 or more year age difference between mother and daughter leads to a significant difference in the value systems that may cause tensions in the relationship, leading to stress, worry and sadness in the child, particularly during the transition to young adulthood."

Another possible explanation may be that the women who gave birth over age 30 would be in their 50s at the time their children were assessed and therefore more likely to be experiencing health problems associated with aging. This could also lead to higher levels of symptoms in the children, Tearne said. Other studies have suggested that daughters are more affected by their mother's health problems than sons, which could explain why the effect only appears in daughters, she said.

"It is important to remember, too, that the study examined symptoms of distress, rather than clinical diagnosis," said Monique Robinson, PhD, of the University of Western Australia, another author of the study. "It could be that the offspring of older mothers are at risk for a few more symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, but that does not necessarily mean they will experience a diagnosable mental disorder."

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