Older mothers likely to have daughters who are childless

Nearly 20 per cent of women born to mothers older than 30 went on to never have children, researchers discovered.

How old your mother was when you were born may affect if you’ll go onto have children, a major study concludes. While the figure was only 13 per cent for those born to teenage mothers and 15 per cent for those whose mother gave birth between 20 and 24.

The results, made by Canadian scientists assessing pregnancy records of 43,000 women in the US, come amid a surge in older mothers.  Nearly 20 per cent of women born to mothers older than 30 went on to never have children, researchers discovered

Delayed pregnancies are usually made by women who have instead decided to focus on establishing themselves a career. And the new findings, which have been dubbed ‘surprising’ and published in the journal Human Reproduction, support that theory.

Women who had a post-graduate degree were the most likely never to have any children, according to the McGill University team. Their chances of having children were found to be lower than lesbians and those who had never married, New Scientist reports.

Why does the link exist?


It’s become a highly contentious issue, with women who leave it later in life to start a family sometimes facing severe criticism. But it seems there may be at least one big upside: a new scientific study has revealed that women who have babies in their 30s can go on to live for longer.

Portuguese researchers compared the life expectancies of older women with the age they were when they gave birth to their children. The University of Coimbra team found women who had children later were more likely to live for longer than those who give birth in their teens and 20s.

The researchers, led by Dr Olga Basso, have been unable to conclude why the link exists. But the first evidence emerged in 2006 that women who delay having children risk permanently damaging the fertility of their daughters.

The study, presented at an American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference, suggested that late births cause genetic damage that is passed on. At the time, the medical community dubbed the results ‘fascinating’ – but the topic has yet to be fully understood by scientists.

Dr Basso told New Scientist: ‘It is possible that being born to an older mother results in daughters behaving differently.’

‘Surprising’ results

Allen Wilcox, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told the website the results ‘surprise’ him and are ‘important to pursue’.

‘Childlessness is becoming a political and social concern.

‘If some of this increase is due to older mothers in the previous generation – whatever the causal mechanism – it would be good to know.’


The proportion of women over 40 giving birth in England and Wales has trebled in the last 30 years, from 4.9 per 1,000 in 1984 to 14.7 per 1,000 in 2014. The average age for a woman to have her first child in the UK is now 30. A staggering one in 25 of all UK births is now to a mother over the age of 40.

Older mothers, obesity and a fear of childbirth are driving record numbers of caesareans, according to experts. Last year almost 28 per cent of women who gave birth had a caesarean, a three-fold rise since the 1980s.

This included 12 per cent who had a planned caesarean – one in eight – the remainder had one as an emergency. The figures from NHS Digital are the highest since records began in 1980.

They also show that only half of women who gave birth last year went into labour naturally, 55 per cent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *