Secular changes in the association between advanced maternal age and the risk of low birth weight: a cross-cohort comparison in the UK
Population Studies, 72:3, 381–397 (2018)
Existing studies provide contradictory evidence concerning the association between child health and advanced maternal age. A potential explanation for the lack of consensus on this issue is changes over time in the costs and benefits of giving birth at an advanced age. This is the first study to investigate secular changes in the characteristics of older mothers and in the association between advanced maternal age and child health. We use data from four UK cohort studies, covering births from 1958 to 2001, and use low birth weight (LBW) as a marker for child health. We find that across successive birth cohorts, the negative association between advanced maternal age and LBW becomes progressively weaker; and that this pattern is partially explained by secular changes in the characteristics of older mothers. Our results suggest that associations between maternal age and child outcomes are tied to a specific population and point in time.