Motherhood after age 50: an evaluation of parenting stress and physical functioning.
OBJECTIVE: To explore parenting stress and physical functioning in women who conceive after the age of 50 years. DESIGN: Prospective cohort. SETTING: University fertility center. PATIENT(S): Women who conceived and delivered after age 50 (n = 49) following egg donation were matched to women in their 40s (n = 49) and women in their 30s (n = 49) who conceived via assisted reproduction with a similar date of embryo transfer and gestational order. INTERVENTION(S): Questionnaires addressing parenting stress (Parenting Stress Index, short form) and physical and mental functioning (Version 2 of the SF-36 Health Survey). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Norm-based scores for physical functioning, mental functioning, and total parenting stress (TS). RESULT(S): Women in their 50s showed a nonsignificant trend toward lower physical functioning scores compared with women in their 30s (54.8 +/- 4.1 vs. 56.9 +/- 4.3; P=.12) but higher mental functioning scores (53.6 +/- 7.3 vs. 50.1 +/- 7.0; P=.14). The percentage of subjects with high parenting stress (TS >80th percentile) varied between the groups but was not highest in the oldest (0%, 22%, and 6%, in the 30s, 40s, and 50s groups, respectively; P=.03). Adjustments for potential confounders did not alter the findings. CONCLUSION(S): Our data do not support the hypothesis that mothers of advanced maternal age have reduced parenting capacity due to physical or mental ability or parenting stress.
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