Journal Article

Maternal age and offspring health and health behaviours in late adolescence in Sweden

SSM-Population Health, 68–76 (2016)
Open Access


In this study we investigate the relationship between maternal age at the time of birth and a variety of health behaviours and measures of health amongst young adults in contemporary Sweden. Previous research has shown that those born to younger and older mothers tend to have worse perinatal outcomes, and worse health in middle- and later adulthood. However, previous work has not examined health in early adulthood, and no studies have explored whether maternal age is related to health behaviours. Using survey data on 1236 19-year olds born in Sweden in 1990, we find that those born to older mothers have lower self-rated health, are more likely to smoke, more likely to drink alcohol regularly, and less likely to exercise regularly. We discuss potential explanations for these findings, such as older parents exerting lower social control due to greater levels of workplace responsibilities and time demands, long-term consequences of the poor peri-natal outcomes of those born to older mothers, as well as the potential role of parental health behaviours. Our findings suggest that health behaviours may play an important mediating role in explaining the worse long-term health of those born to younger and older mothers.

Keywords: Sweden; Maternal age; Adolescents; Health; Self-rated health; Smoking; Alcohol; Exercise

Keywords: Sweden
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.