Maternal Age Is One Predictor of Child's Poor Development

Mother's education, finance and partner status, smoking, and depression also affect development

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal age below 20 years at the time of birth is one of a number of factors that may predict a child's poor development, according to a study published online May 2 in Pediatrics.

Catherine R. Chittleborough, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined whether maternal age less than 20 years at birth and five other factors measured during pregnancy (education, financial and partner status, smoking, and depression) were predictive of poor development in children up to 5 years of age. Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were used to identify poor child development. This was defined as a score in the lowest 10 percent in three measures: in the parent-reported ALSPAC developmental scale (ADS) at 18 months; the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at 47 months; and the teacher-reported School Entry Assessment (SEA) scores at 4 to 5 years.

The investigators found that a small percentage of children with poor development had mothers younger than 20 (3.3, 6.4, and 9.2 percent in ADS, SDQ, and SEA groups, respectively). When all six predictors were used, and mothers had at least one, the proportions increased to 48.9, 63.6, and 74.4 percent in the ADS, SDQ, and SEA groups, respectively. Model discrimination was poor using only maternal age, and improved using all six predictors.

"A model including all predictors provides better discrimination and calibration for predicting these child outcomes than a model based solely on mothers age," the authors write.

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