While giving birth at an older age is becoming more common, it can make your baby boy more vulnerable to the risk of developing heart diseases in adulthood, a study has shown.

According to the research conducted on a mouse model, older motherhood may also be associated with pregnancy complications, premature delivery and with low birth weight.

“This research is important because it improves our understanding of the impact of giving birth at an older age on the health of offspring in later life,” said principal investigator Sandra T. Davidge from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

“We are further analysing the mechanisms that might be contributing to these adverse effects on the offspring of older mothers, in particular focusing on the role of placental function,” Davidge said.

In the study, published in The Journal of Physiology, the team studied offsprings born to older female rats — equivalent to 35 years of age in humans — and younger male rats. At four months, the team tested the blood vessels and heart functions of the offsprings.

They also found that the female offsprings did not demonstrate the same susceptibility to heart problems or impaired blood vessels as male offsprings.

The team highlighted the need for improved access to health care for children born to older mothers. They also suggest that intervention strategies should be tailored according to the sex.

In future studies, the researchers will look into whether or not the findings, published in The Journal of Physiology, are true in humans. Professor Davidge said a particular focus would be the role of the placenta.

The number of older mothers has soared, pushing up the average age of first-time motherhood in England to 28.6 compared to 23.5 in 1970. The proportion of mothers over 40 has trebled from 4.9 per 1,000 in 1984 to 14.7 per 1,000 in 2014.

The British Fertility Society has warned that celebrities having children in their 40s are giving false hope about late motherhood as ‘miracle babies’ will often have needed IVF or donors.


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