The risks of advancing parental age on neonatal morbidity and mortality are U- or J-shaped for both maternal and paternal ages. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: The biologic implications of delayed parenthood have been blamed for a major public health crisis in the United States, that includes high rates of neonatal morbidity and mortality (NMM). The objective of this study was to evaluate the risk of parent age on NMM and to provide results that can serve as a starting point for more specific mediation modeling. METHODS: Data containing approximately 15,000,000 birth records were obtained from the United States Natality database for the years 2014 to 2018. A Bayesian modeling approach was used to estimate the both the total effect and the risk adjusted for confounding between parent ages and for mediation by chromosomal disorders including Down syndrome. Outcomes included intra-hospital death and nine measures of neonatal morbidity. RESULTS: For paternal age, seven NMM (preterm birth, very preterm birth, low Apgar score, treatment with antibiotics, treatment with surfactant, prolonged ventilation, intra-hospital death) had U-shaped risk patterns, two NMM (small for gestational age, admission to neonatal intensive care) had J-shaped risk patterns, one NMM (seizures) was not significantly related to paternal age. For maternal age, three NMM (low Apgar score, treatment with antibiotics and intra-hospital death) had U-shaped risk patterns, four NMM (preterm delivery, very preterm delivery, admission to neonatal intensive care, treatment with surfactant) had J-shaped risk patterns, one NMM (small for gestational age) had a risk declining with age, one NMM (prolonged ventilation) had a risk increasing with age and one NMM (seizures) was not significantly related to maternal age. CONCLUSIONS: Both advancing maternal and paternal ages had U- or J-shaped risk patterns for neonatal morbidity and mortality.

published proceedings

  • BMC Pediatr

altmetric score

  • 5.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Thompson, J. A.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Thompson, James A

publication date

  • January 2020