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Research News Briefs

For immediate use

Oct. 23, 2006 -- No. 503


Older age of mothers not a factor
in physical, mental ability to parent

Women who give birth after the age of 50 have physical and mental abilities to parent similar to younger women's, according to a study led by Dr. Anne Z. Steiner, an assistant professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Medicine's department of obstetrics and gynecology. Steiner will present these findings Tuesday (Oct. 24) at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans. Her study is believed to be the first to evaluate parenting in women who conceive after age 50.

In Steiner's study, conducted while she was at the University of Southern California, 49 women who conceived and delivered after age 50 with the help of USC's assisted reproductive technology program were matched to 129 women in their 30s and 40s who also conceived with the program's help. The women were mailed questionnaires on parenting stress and physical and mental well-being.

About half of the women returned completed questionnaires. Their self-reported results showed that the women in their 50s had slightly lower physical functioning scores than the younger women, but the older women had higher mental functioning scores. There was no significant difference between the older and younger women in terms of overall parenting stress.

Steiner and co-author Dr. Richard J. Paulson, of USC, concluded that their study does not support the hypothesis that mothers who conceive and give birth after age 50 have reduced parenting capacity compared to mothers in their 30s and 40s.


UNC's FPG Child Development Institute awarded
$15 million U.S. Department of Education grant

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a five-year, $15 million grant to continue its National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC).

NECTAC, an FPG program, serves as the U.S. Office of Special Education Program's national resource for states implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), particularly the early childhood provisions. NECTAC's mission is to strengthen service systems to ensure that children up to 5 years old with disabilities and their families receive high quality, culturally appropriate and family-centered support and services.

FPG is a multidisciplinary institute at Carolina. For the past 40 years, FPG research and outreach has helped shape how the nation cares for and educates young children. For more information, visit


School of Medicine contact: Stephanie Crayton, (919) 966-2860 or
FPG Child Development Institute contact: Tracy Zimmerman, (919) 966-0867 or