Parental Age and Offspring Childhood Mental Health: A Multi-Cohort, Population-Based Investigation

Maria A J Zondervan-Zwijnenburg, Sabine Veldkamp, Alexander Neumann, Stefania A Barzeva, Stefanie A Nelemans, C.E.M. van Beijsterveldt, Susan J T Branje, Manon H J Hillegers, Wim H J Meeus, Henning Tiemeier, Herbert J A Hoijtink, Albertine J Oldehinkel, D.I. Boomsma

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To examine the contributions of maternal and paternal age on offspring externalizing and internalizing problems, this study analyzed problem behaviors at age 10-12 years from four Dutch population-based cohorts (N = 32,892) by a multiple informant design. Bayesian evidence synthesis was used to combine results across cohorts with 50% of the data analyzed for discovery and 50% for confirmation. There was evidence of a robust negative linear relation between parental age and externalizing problems as reported by parents. In teacher-reports, this relation was largely explained by parental socio-economic status. Parental age had limited to no association with internalizing problems. Thus, in this large population-based study, either a beneficial or no effect of advanced parenthood on child problem behavior was observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)964-982
Number of pages19
JournalChild Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors Child Development published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Research in Child Development.

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