Older Moms at Higher Risk for Depression

Older Moms at Higher Risk for Depression

A recent study from Canada has observed higher rates of depression in mothers who have children after the age of 40. The prevalence of depression after delivery was about threefold higher in women aged 40 to 44 years as compared to women aged 30 to 35 years. This relationship was even stronger after controlling for potential confounders, including education level, marital status, and chronic illness (adjusted OR 3.72; 95% CI 2.15 to 6.41).

When the researchers looked only at first-time mothers, the odds of depression in the 40 to 44 years of age group were substantially higher than among women aged 30 to 34 years (aOR 9.51; 95% CI 3.41 to 26.54).

Exactly why older mothers are at increased risk for depression is not fully understood.  The authors remark, “This increased risk has been attributed to a variety of factors, such as the perception that older women have more difficult experiences and adjustments to motherhood, and the lack of peer support due to deviations from social norms surrounding maternal age.”  This study did not have data regarding the prevalence of fertility problems and infertility treatment, important factors which may also modulate risk for depression in this group of women.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Muraca GM, Joseph KS.  The association between maternal age and depression.  J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2014 Sep;36(9):803-10.

One Comment

  1. Lisa October 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I am one of the older mom’s and I can say from my experience that there was more than one factor that contributed to my postpartum anxiety and I do believe my age was one of them. Every Mother’s factors are different and I still can’t say with any scientific proof if it was one factor, a few of them or all of them that contributed to my anxiety after I gave birth.

    My Postpartum Picture: My family has a history of depression, I was unable to conceive and had an In-vitro baby at the age of 40- after 8 years of fertility treatments, I had an emergency c-section, I had anxiety as a child. I was the first born.

    Having a baby at 40 was a very hard adjustment on my identity. My husband and I were alone for 8 years plus 6 more before marriage. We had our rhythm in place for a long while. Women who have in-vitro births have a higher expectation of life with a baby afterwards; It was all glow and excitement before the birth-our child was our Christmas present because he was born in December. I can say that I didn’t like the wrapping that the gift came in at all. I can pretty much say with conviction that my 8 years of fertility treatments screwed up my hormones royally. My happy pregnancy hormones evaporated 36 hours after I gave birth and the anxiety slapped me in the face–hard.

    I believe that postpartum mood disorder can not be cut, dried and tied up into a scientific bow. My age was a factor. At 40 everything becomes a little harder and we can just hope that the gained wisdom with age will give us a boost when our body can’t.

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