Pregnancy After 35 Could Boost Your Brain

It seems that women are often warned about the potential dangers of getting pregnant after age 35 or 40. Yet a new study points out a possible advantage to getting pregnant later in life.

Bringing a baby into your world when you are 35 or older is associated with an increased risk of certain situations, such as premature birth, stillbirth, low birthweight, having a baby with birth defects (e.g., Down’s syndrome), needing a cesarean section, and miscarriage. The chances of experiencing these problems are greater in older women because they are more likely than their younger peers to have diabetes, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, or difficulty getting pregnant.
Read about things to do before you get pregnant

Bonus from getting pregnant later in life

The results of a new study suggest that women who have a baby at age 35 or older may be mentally sharper later in life. The researchers also reported that use of birth control pills for more than decade was associated with better critical thinking skills and verbal memory. The reason for this latter benefit may be that the pill helps to stabilize hormone levels. 

The investigators arrived at their conclusions by evaluating data on cognition and reproductive history that had been gathered from two clinical trials involving 830 women ages 41 to 92. It’s important to point out that the findings don’t prove there is a direct relationship between getting pregnant later in life and having better cognitive skills. Therefore, women should not delay getting pregnant because it could possibly protect their brain.

It’s possible there are other factors the researchers did not allow for that had an effect on their findings. For example, women who delay getting pregnant often are of a higher socio-economic class and have more education than women who don’t wait. Although the researchers allowed for this possibility, “you can only correct so much,” noted Dr. Whitney You, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. 

Although the study’s findings may sound like “good news for professional women” who want to delay starting a family, says Dr. Roksana Karim, an assistant professor for clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, much more needs to be explored about this potential benefit of delaying pregnancy. It is yet one more factor to be considered, along with dozens of others, when making a decision about if and/or when to get pregnant. 

Carroll L. Having a baby after 35 linked to being mentally sharper later in life. 2016 Nov. 22
March of Dimes. Pregnancy after age 35

By Deborah Mitchell| December 17, 2016
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell

Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently she lives in Tucson, Arizona. Visit her at

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