(HealthDay News) – First-time mothers in their early 30s and beyond are more likely to experience psychological distress during pregnancy and after birth than younger women, but only if they have a history of depression, according to a study published online June 18 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Vigdis Aasheim, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues examined the association between advanced maternal age (≥32 years) and psychological distress during pregnancy (17 and 30 weeks of gestation) and up to 18 months after birth in 19,291 first-time mothers.

After controlling for obstetric and infant variables, the researchers found that women of advanced age had slightly higher psychological distress scores (odds ratio, 1.14, based on Symptom Check List-5) than women aged 25–31 years. Scores were highest in younger women. The higher risk of psychological distress was only present in women of advanced age with a history of depression.

“With the growing tendency to postpone childbirth in high-income countries the definition of a young and old first-time mother has changed and new groups of women are now exposed to psychological distress during pregnancy and early parenthood,” Aasheim and colleagues conclude.

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