“Ours is the first U.S. study to find that having your first child in young adulthood is associated with worse self-assessed health decades later for white and black women compared to those who wait until they are over 24,” Kristi Williams said on EurekAlert. Williams is the lead author and works as an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.
A total of 3,348 women who were part of the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth were included in the study. All of the subjects were interviewed every one to two years from 1979 to 2008.
The chosen candidates gave birth to their first child when they were between the ages of 15 up to 35 years. Each was placed in one of three possible categories: teens (ages 15-19), young adults (ages 20-24) and adult (ages 25-35).
Once they reached the age of 40, each of the women was asked to rate their health from poor to excellent. Results indicate that women who gave birth at the age of 25 or older reported better health levels by the time they reached the age of 40 as compared to the two younger age groups.
The study has also yielded another surprising conclusion, one that concerns single mothers.
There is a common assumption that single mothers will feel healthier and less stressed out once they tie the knot. Data from the study reveal that this is not the case, at least not with black women.
According to the data, single black mothers who remain unattached even after having children have reported better health levels when they reach the midlife stage as compared to single mothers who marry later on in life.Express says the researchers were unable to find a reason why this is the case but hypothesize that the lack of eligible, financially stable bachelors may have pushed them to marry unemployed or uneducated men.
“That can lead to stress and conflict in marriage, which can result in poorer health for the women as they age,” Williams theorized.
The researchers concluded, “Most studies indicate that marriage promotion efforts have been unsuccessful in increasing marriage rates. Our findings suggest that may be a good thing, at least for black women’s health.”