Fertility History and Risk of Cognitive Impairment Among Older Parents in The United States.

TitleFertility History and Risk of Cognitive Impairment Among Older Parents in The United States.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsZhang, Y
JournalThe Journal of Gerontology, Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
Keywordscognitive function, Demography, family sociology, population aging

OBJECTIVES: I work from a gendered life course perspective to examine the association between older parents' fertility history (i.e., timing and parity) and their risk of cognitive impairment in the United States.

METHOD: I analyze nationally representative data from 9 waves over 16 years of the Health and Retirement Study (2000-2016). The sample includes 14,543 respondents (6,108 men and 8,435 women) aged 50 and older at the baseline survey. I examine the relationship between parity, age at first birth, and age at last birth with risk of cognitive impairment using non-linear discrete-time hazard models.

RESULTS: Adjusting for the effects of full covariates, there are U-shaped relationships between women's age at last birth and risk of cognitive impairment, and between women's parity and risk of cognitive impairment. In the sensitivity tests, the relationships remain robust when sampling weights are applied, or mortality selection is corrected.

DISCUSSION: Fertility timing and parity are likely factors associated with the risk of cognitive impairment for older women. Understanding fertility history and its impact on cognition can help identify the most vulnerable subpopulations so that more effective interventions can be made to improve cognitive functioning among older adults.

Citation Key12608
PubMed ID35796743
PubMed Central IDPMC9799211