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Postpartum Depression Study: Good News For Older First -Time Moms

If I have another child I'll be over 35 and considered an "older mom".

Earlier this week I wrote about some of the trials and tribulations women who are over 35 and trying to get pregnant may face.

While some may have no problems at all, others face higher instances of infertility, and pregnancy complications including miscarriage and babies born with Down syndrome.

That said, there is some good news for older women trying to get pregnant.

According to Reuters, “women who have their first baby at an older age aren’t at greater risk of postpartum depression, according to a new report that contradicts earlier concerns.”

Australian researchers looked at more than 500 first-time mothers and found that moms age 37 or older were no more likely to suffer from postpartum depression than younger others, regardless of whether they had infertility treatment.

For their study, reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, McMahon’s team followed 266 women who had conceived naturally and 275 who’d undergone fertility treatment. All of the women answered questionnaires during their third trimester, and had a diagnostic interview for depression when their babies were four months old.

Overall, 180 women were age 37 or older when they gave birth. And they were no more likely to develop postpartum depression than younger women were, the study found.

Eight percent of the women had major depression symptoms four months after giving birth. That’s at the lower end of what new mothers experience in general. They also don’t think a woman’s age has anything to do with whether a woman will develop depression after childbirth.

In fact, study leader, Catherine A. McMahon says the idea that older first-time mothers might face a higher depression risk is mostly due to speculation and “popular culture anecdote”.

“Older mothers are frequently discussed in the media,” McMahon tells Reuters. “There are a lot of myths, and limited empirical data.”

McMahon further says there there as been speculation that moms of an older age have a tougher time adjusting to motherhood because they may be more “set in their ways” than younger woman and the change they experience is more drastic.

But, McMahon said, “there is no research evidence to support these speculations.” She adds that the findings that older first-time moms aren’t at a greater risk of postpartum depression highlights the importance of not “labeling” older moms as high-risk for depression — something that, itself, could stress out a new mother.

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