Women who wait till their 30s to give birth might live longer, according to findings from this study
It’s no secret that women should give birth as early as possible (within reason, of course!) to minimize the risks of experiencing miscarriages, pregnancy complications, or having their babies born with congenital disorders. But in a surprising twist, a new study by scientists at Coimbra University, Portugal, found that women who wait till their 30s to give birth might actually live longer.
This study, which was published in the Journal of Public Health, looked at the life expectancies of mothers in European countries and compared these against the age they were when they gave birth to their children. The results? Women who waited till they were older to get pregnant were significantly more likely to live longer than those who gave birth at a younger age.
One criticism of this study is that the correlation between life expectancy of a woman and the age at which she gives birth could possibly be caused by external factors. For instance, women who are able to conceive at an advanced age tend to be those who are highly educated and wealthy (giving them better access to fertility treatments). Bringing this into the picture, this could be the underlying factor which explains why certain participants in the study were able to give birth at an older age, as well as why they had longer life expectancies.
There’s more to the story, though. According to a second study, which was published in Menopause journal, mothers who gave birth when they were 33 or older were three times more likely to have DNA markers for longevity, as opposed to mothers who gave birth younger. This second study was conducted with 386 women in the United States and Denmark, all of whom were over 70 years old.
To go into the specifics, researchers looked at the length of women’s telomeres (a sequence within your chromosomes that impacts how your cells age), and compared this to the age in which women were able to conceive. Women who gave birth to their last child at an advanced age (between 34 – 38 years of age) were found to have longer telomere lengths – which indicate their increased longevity.
What does this say? It’s not completely conclusive, but it does suggest that the gene for the ability to reproduce at a more advanced age and the gene for longevity are closely tied. Whilst this turns out to be a nice bonus for women who do conceive later on in life, fertility experts nevertheless recommend that women don’t wait unnecessarily before trying to conceive. Even though there are perks for those who do manage to conceive later, the fact remains that most women will experience difficulty past the age of 35.
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