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Women who have their First Child after 24 are Healthier, Study Says

Update Date: Dec 30, 2015 11:37 AM EST

Giving birth after the age of 24 may be better for one's health, according to a recent study.

In this study, the team led by Kristi Williams, PhD, analyzed data on 3,348 women who were from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979. All of the participants had their first child between 15- and 35-years-old. As a part of the study they were followed from 1979 to 2008. When they reached 40, they rated their health.

The team found that women who have their first child between the ages of 25 and 35 are generally healthier by the time they reached 40 than women who gave birth for the first time in their teens (15-19) and early 20s (20-24). The researchers reported that there were no differences in the self-reported health of the younger two groups of women.

"Ours is the first U.S. study to find that having your first child in young adulthood is associated with worse self-assessed health decades later for white and black women, when compared to those who wait until they are over 24," Williams, who is an associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, said in the news release.

The study also found that other factors, such as marriage and race, affected how women assessed their own health.
Women who were married before their first child reported better health at the age of 40 in comparison to women who were single when they had their first child. The exception to this finding was in black women who never married and had their first child when they were single. This group of women, in comparison to single women who ended up getting married later, reported better health at 40.

The researchers stressed the importance of delaying childbirth. However, since the health assessments were all self-reported, it is difficult to truly know whether or not health was significantly worse in those who had babies earlier.

The study's findings were published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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