Older moms, remember your late thirties? That time when friends and family were harassing you about having babies, used the term “geriatric mother” and told you your biological clock was ticking? Well, it turns out that the joke’s on them.
A study by Boston University School of Medicine found that women who gave birth naturally after age 33 have a higher chance of living to an extreme age than those who had their last child before age 30.
For this research, data was analyzed from the Long Life Family Study. They looked at the ages at which 462 women had their last child and how long they ended up living.
Researchers concluded that women who gave birth to their last child after 33 were twice as likely to live to 95 years or older, compared with those who had their last child by age 29.
The more the better?
Aladdin Shadyab, a post-doctoral fellow in family medicine and public health at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, conducted a related study. He found that, in addition to giving birth later in life, women who had two to four children were more likely to live longer than those who had one.
However, this relationship was only true among white women and not black women. The study did not delve into the reasons for this difference between races, but previous data suggest some possibilities.
Perhaps social factors such as income and education are markers for women’s access to health care. Those with more social mobility may just have more access to healthcare, which allows them to live longer.
Though not yet proven, the researchers suspect that the DNA of women who can have babies later in life might contain genetic variants that slow aging and lower the risk for age-related diseases that can hamper fertility.
This could also explain why women outlive men. Out of all the people who live to be 100 years old, a whopping 85% are women.
No fountain of youth
While this is great news for women who gave birth later in life, the study is keen to point out that putting off pregnancy will not add years to your life.
Sadly, genetics don’t work that way and this is an important point to consider if you have a friend or family member who is thinking about trying to start a family in their late thirties.
“If you physically delay having children, that’s not going to help with longevity,” explained Paola Sebastiani, a Boston University biostatistics professor and study co-author, “A woman with a natural ability to have children later in life suggests that her body, including her reproductive system, just happens to age at a slow pace. Some women’s biological clocks simply tick more slowly than most.”
The good news is that if you had your child later in life, you may carry the variant and could have passed it down to your children. Yes, not only are you likely to live longer, but your children are too.
It seems that we may have women to thank for the evolution of longevity. Thanks mom!