Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Age Doesn't Matter For Motherhood

Date:
November 28, 2007
Source:
Exeter University
Summary:
The assumption that those born to mothers outside the optimum age for reproduction are disadvantaged has now been challenged. New research found that mothers adjust their pre and post-natal care to compensate for any health problems their babies might face as a result of them being below or above the best age to give birth.

The assumption that those born to mothers outside the optimum age for reproduction are disadvantaged has been challenged by scientists at the University of Exeter. Their research found that mothers adjust their pre and post-natal care to compensate for any health problems their babies might face as a result of them being below or above the best age to give birth.

Published in the journalThe American Naturalist, the study examined how burying beetle mothers instinctively adapt their prenatal and postnatal care according to their age. In many species, offspring birth weight and survival is affected by the age of the mother.

Human teenage mothers’ newborns are usually smaller and less healthy, for example, and young burying beetles mothers’ babies are similarly disadvantaged. This research shows that a range of parental activities, from the allocation of energy to eggs to the amount of time spent on care, varied between beetle mothers of different ages.

“In most species, there are reasons why a mother does not reproduce at the optimum age, whether that is because she has not yet met a suitable mate or food resources are scarce,” said Professor Allen Moore of the University of Exeter. “To cope with this fact, it seems that species have evolved to adapt their parenting to their age. We suggest that there is not one optimum age for motherhood.”

Burying beetles readily care for each other’s offspring. The research team switched the offspring between burying beetle mothers that first reproduced when they were young and only just sexually mature, or older than average. They found that age at first reproduction influenced the size of the babies at birth, with younger mothers having smaller offspring.

Some mothers adjusted their parental care to compensate for this. However, this only occurred when their foster babies came from mothers of the same age, suggesting that the rate of care is innate, rather than based on signals from the young.

Although they focused on beetles for this study, the group believes their findings could have relevance for other species, even humans. Professor Allen Moore said: “Insects are ideal for testing theories like this because, although they are fairly simple organisms, what works for them so often applies to other species. It makes evolutionary sense for the window for motherhood to be as wide as possible, giving the best chance for reproduction. We see no reason why our results could not be applied to other species, including humans.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Exeter University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Exeter University. "Why Age Doesn't Matter For Motherhood." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071127113246.htm>.
Exeter University. (2007, November 28). Why Age Doesn't Matter For Motherhood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071127113246.htm
Exeter University. "Why Age Doesn't Matter For Motherhood." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071127113246.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins