When it comes to female fertility, that little old thing known as the ‘biological clock’ can be our worst enemy. For those of us who do want to have kids, it can seem like we have so much we need to accomplish before becoming moms. Career. Travel. Life balance.
Yet we always hear about how much more difficult it is to have kids when we’re older. Unfortunately, the stats about low ovarian reserves, less successful in-virtro fertilization rates and higher chances of complication still ring true. But thanks to a new study, those of us who do get pregnant in our 40s can feel good about one thing at least; our children may be smarter than those born to younger parents.
The study, which will be presented at the Fertility Society of Australia’s annual scientific meeting this month, looked at 1,100 babies born to women aged 40 and older, along with 38,000 babies born to younger women. The Institute of Child Health at University College London found that at nine months, three years and five years, the kids born to the women aged 40-plus were more likely to be immunized and had fewer hospital admissions or accidents. They also scored higher on the cognitive and academic tests.
That went for first, and second-born children.
One working theory is that older women have more life-experience by the time they have their babies, which means they have more know-how on dealing with their child’s health and upbringing. Another theory is that these moms have waited so long to have their kid that they develop “precious child” behaviour, and devote more time and energy to their baby’s upbringing than someone who would be more likely to take giving birth for granted.
Whatever it is, researchers still warn that these results aren’t enough for women to put off having kids until their 40s if they want to be a mom. Again, we can thank that biological clock thing.
Want to have smart babies and you’re not in your 40s? There’s some good news for you, too. According to another study — this time from the University of Alberta — eating berries and bananas while you’re pregnant could help bolster your baby’s cognitive function while they’re still in the womb. At least, that’s what the study gathered from 688 expectant moms in Edmonton. Their eating habits were monitored, and when their babies were a year old, those who munched on fruit tended to have a kid who performed higher on memory and developmental tests.
There’s a threshold though — the researchers found that five or six servings per day was more than enough. Having 50 servings of fruit per day won’t necessarily give you a genius baby, but it may bring on a serious sugar rush.
The bottom line? Women everywhere have smart babies. So take that, science.