Here is some good news for older mothers. Recent research findings say that mothers who are older when they give birth are likely to live longer. A Boston University Medical Center study found that late life mothers are genetically predisposed to live longer and not by a small number of years either. In fact, the genetic variant that allows them to have children at a later time in their lives, also confers upon them a remarkably long life span.
The study, published on Wednesday in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, looked at data from 462 women who were part of The Long Life Family Study, a bio-psychosocial and genetic research program, which included families with members, who had lived unusually long lives. The researchers compared the ages at which these women had their last child and how long they lived.
It concluded that women who got pregnant naturally and had successful births after the age of 33, were more likely to reach the age of 95, as opposed to those who have their last child by the age of 29. Older mothers who delivered their last child after the age of 37 were 1.92 times as likely to live that long.
Amazingly, the results held true even when researchers included lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity, which generally decrease the chance of having children naturally and hasten aging. This latest research confirms and supplements several existing studies with similar conclusions. It must be noted that the current findings did not include women who used medical assistance to become pregnant.
Speaking about the findings, Thomas Perls, MD, MPH and co-author of the study, said that the results did not mean that all women should wait to have late life births in an attempt to lengthen their own lives. According to Perls, the findings indicate that some women show a strong connection between the natural ability to have a child at a later age and a slower aging process. He states that for some women, the reproductive system appears to age at a slower than normal rate which, in turn, makes it likely that the rest of the body is doing the same.
In other words, the Boston University Medical Center research suggests that healthy women who are older mothers are likely to live longer because they are winners of the longevity gene lottery. This good genetic marker for longevity may first manifest itself by allowing those women to remain fertile for an extended period of time. Additionally, the study results indicate that women with such DNA may be the catalysts that spur the evolution of genetic variants that decrease aging.
The research also raises another major evolutionary advantage for women capable of conceiving and birthing children over a longer period of time. Being able to live longer after the childbearing years are over, allows her to supplement the care needed by grandchildren and other members of the family.
These findings are especially significant since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the average age of women who are choosing to have children late has risen over the past four decades. A recent Time magazine article found that since the year 2000, 46 states and DC have experienced a rise in the first-birth rate for women over 35.
With growing numbers of American women choosing to have children after the age of 35, the recent research findings, which say that older mothers are likely to live longer, is a positive indicator. This is more so because it negates conventional fears that late life mothers might not be around long enough to look after their children and be a part of the lives of their grandchildren.
By Monalisa Gangopadhyay