Older moms living longer?
Due to the risks associated with having a baby after 35, getting pregnant in your late thirties and into your forties has been a controversial issue. But new research shows that getting pregnant naturally later in life could be an indicator that you will live an exceptionally long life.
A Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) study, published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, reported that women who have children without the aid of fertility treatments after age 33 tend to live longer than those who had their last child before age 30.
The study examined data from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS), a genetic study of 551 families with members who demonstrated “exceptional longevity.”
The research determined that women who had a baby after age 33 were twice as likely to live to age 95 or older than women who had their last baby before age 30, according to the study. The study also mentioned previous research showing that women who gave birth after 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 than women who gave birth at a younger age.
Co-author Dr. Thomas Perls, MPH, director of the New England Centenarian Study and a principal investigator for LLFS, said in a news release that the research findings do not mean women should wait to have children at an older age in order to live longer.
“The age at last childbirth can be a rate of aging indicator,” he said. “The natural ability to have a child at an older age likely indicates that a woman’s reproductive system is aging slowly, and therefore so is the rest of her body.”
The research did not show a cause and effect relationship between having children later and living longer. Instead, the research shows that the variants enabling women to get pregnant naturally are the same variants associated with long life expectancy.
“If a woman has those variants, she is able to reproduce and bear children for a longer period of time, increasing her chances of passing down those genes to the next generation,” Perls said in a news release. “This possibility may be a clue as to why 85 percent of women live to 100 or more years while only 15 percent of men do.”
While the study does offer some good news to older moms, Dr. Irma Sodini, obstetrician/gynecologist with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago, says women should carefully evaluate the risks and benefits with their doctor before making the decision to get pregnant.
“It’s essential for older moms to maintain a healthy diet, have a reasonable exercise regimen and avoid smoking and alcohol,” she says. “Having children later in life does present some risks, but proper prenatal care can reduce the chances of having problems.”
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