Women who have their first baby at an older age aren't at any greater risk of depression than their younger counterparts, according to a study of more than 500 first-time mothers.
Researchers led by Catherine McMahon at Macquarie University in Australia found that women aged 37 or older were no more likely to get postpartum depression than younger women, regardless of whether they conceived naturally or had infertility treatment.
"Older mothers are frequently discussed in the media. There are a lot of myths, and limited empirical data," McMahon, a psychology professor, said.
There has been speculation, for instance, that older mothers might have a tougher time adjusting to motherhood, or have more trouble dealing with the lifestyle changes that a baby brings.
"There is no research evidence to support these speculations," McMahon added, although she noted that it is known that older mothers have a greater risk of pregnancy complications and that these complications have been linked to the risk of postpartum depression.
For their study, reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, McMahon's team followed 266 women who had conceived naturally and 275 who had undergone fertility treatment.