Long-term health consequences of delayed childbirth: NHANES III

Womens Health Issues. Jan-Feb 2002;12(1):37-45. doi: 10.1016/s1049-3867(01)00135-9.


Medicine has pointed to short-term, immediate health risks to child and mother of delaying childbearing past the age of 35 years. The long-term health consequences of delayed childbearing have not been the subject of research. Are women who delay having children to pursue education and career goals placing their later health status at risk? To address this question, the study utilizes data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III 1988-1994. The analyses used odds ratios obtained from stepwise logistic regression analysis to assess women's health risks. The results are suggestive of selective risk enhancement from delayed childbirth with regard to cardiovascular disease and risk factors, especially diabetes and hypertension, and congestive heart failure. Risks were further enhanced in terms of dental health, blood abnormalities, physical mobility, and vision difficulties. Whereas delaying childbearing may indicate a readiness on the part of women and men to delay becoming parents, the present study suggests that not all is currently known about the long-term health consequences of such decisions to delay childbearing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Marriage
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*