Older mums more likely to be depressed
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 Muraca-Muir 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 depression 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.
"There is controversy about whether at an older age mothers have less depression, due to their higher socio-economic status," added Ms Muraca-Muir.
Her method adjusted for marital status and educational level to correct for the fact that older mothers might be more likely to be married and have professional jobs but even without doing so she found higher levels of maternal depression among older mothers.
It is possible, she said, that there was a tipping point, after which any advantage gained by greater financial security was offset by the increased anxiety caused by age.
The finding will be of particular concern given the increased number of older mothers in recent years.
Previous studies have found no link between post-natal depression and advanced maternal age. Post-natal depression is, however, defined as occurring in the immediate months after pregnancy, as opposed to the five year period covered by this study.