Maternal Age and Child Social Development

By Marlena N. Smith

In a recent study, Koyama, Kamio, Inada, and Inokuchi found increased maternal age at childbirth to be associated with atypical social development in children. Increased parental age at childbirth is often regarded as a potential risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether increased maternal age is linked to atypical social development and later ASD diagnosis in children.

Participants included 1460 children. At age 18 months, the participants’ social development was assessed using a Japanese translation of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). In addition, the participants received diagnostic evaluations at age 36 months.

While the results did not reveal a correlation between maternal age at childbirth and ASD, findings did indicate an association between increased maternal age and atypical social development. Children with mothers ages 35 years or older at childbirth were found to be 2.22 times more likely not to pass the M-CHAT than children with mothers ages 29 years or younger at childbirth.

Although findings indicate an association between increased maternal age at childbirth and atypical social development in children, causal factors can only be speculated. Further research concerning maternal age and social development in children is warranted.


Koyama, T., Kamio, Y., Inada, N., & Inokuchi, E. (in press). Maternal age at childbirth and social development in infancy. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2010.06.008

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