February 23, 2012

Older mums more likely to be depressed By Katie Collins MOTHERS who give birth later in life are at significantly greater risk of subsequent depression, a study has claimed.

The research found that those aged between 40 and 45 who had given birth in the past five years had five times the chance of suffering from depression compared to those 10 years younger.

Researcher Giulia MuracaMuir said that the reason for the increase might be because of the effect of increased health worries during pregnancy.

"There is a lot of rhetoric about all the biological risk, and that is really discomforting for women in that age group," she said, presenting her research, which used data from a Canada-wide health survey, "Anxiety during pregnancy has been found to be one of the strongest predictors of depres- sion after childbirth." There is also an increased likelihood that older mothers will have used artificial means of conception, which could add to antenatal worry.

Some previous assumptions had held that the probability of becoming depressed after childbirth should diminish with age, as depression is linked to poverty and instability, which are lower in older mothers.

CORRECT "There is controversy about whether at an older age moth- ers have less depression, due to their higher socio-economic status," added Ms Muraca-Muir.

Her method adjusted formarital status and educationallevel to correct for the fact thatolder mothers might be morelikely to be married and haveprofessional jobs but even with-out doing so she found higherlevels of maternal depressionamong older mothers.

It is possible, she said, thatthere was a tipping point, afterwhich any advantage gained bygreater financial security wasoffset by the increased anxietycaused by age.

The finding will be of partic-ular concern given the increasednumber of older mothers inrecent years.

Previous studies have foundno link between post-nataldepression and advancedmaternal age. Post-natal depres-sion is, however, defined asoccurring in the immediatemonths after pregnancy, asopposed to the five year periodcovered by this study.

hnews@herald.ie

Accessibility