"This study suggests that older maternal age is associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress in young adult females," said Jessica Tearne, a doctoral student at the University of Western Australia and lead author of the study, in a press release.
The study, which is published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, looked at data from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort, which included pregnant women and 1,200 of their children, who were followed until age 23. Daughters of women who had them between the ages of 30 and 34 reported experiencing more stress than those whose moms gave birth to them before age 30. Meanwhile, when a mom gave birth to a daughter when she was older than 35, the daughter was more likely to suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression.
Sons didn't seem to be affected by their moms' age at the time of their birth, and the father's age also wasn't a factor.
So why is a mom's age correlated to her adult daughter's mental health status? Tearne hypothesizes: "It may be that a 30-or-more-year age difference between mother and daughter leads to a significant difference in the value systems that may cause tensions in the relationship, leading to stress, worry, and sadness in the child, particularly during the transition to young adulthood."
As a woman in her later 30s who not only had two daughters after age 30, but is also considering having another child, of course I couldn't help but feel stressed, anxious, and depressed about this study. But it's important to note this study didn't look at clinically depressed people with official diagnoses, just a tendency to experience depressive symptoms.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.