New research finds that women who give birth at an older age may live longer. Here's why.

By Anna Halkidis
October 12, 2020
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As the number of women having kids 30 and over is on the rise, a new study suggests they may have an advantage: a longer life.

The research, published in October 2020 in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), found that those who delivered their last child at an older age were likely to have longer telomeres.

To break down the science: telomeres are described as “DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes.” They are considered a “biomarker of long-term health and longevity.” Shorter telomeres have been linked to more diseases and poor survival, according to research published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. And the rate at which telomeres shorten can be increased or decreased by lifestyle choices, including diet and activities.

So, is later pregnancy one of those lifestyle choices that can stop telomeres from shortening? Well that’s still unclear. "More research is needed to determine whether older maternal age at last birth causes telomeres to lengthen or whether telomere length serves as a proxy for general health and corresponds with a woman's ability to have a child at a later age," Stephanie Faubion, M.D., M.B.A., the NAMS medical director, said in a statement.

But this isn’t the first time research has shown a link between a later pregnancy and a longer life. A study, published in Menopause in January 2015, found women who had their last kid after 33 had double the chance of living to 95 or older as opposed to those who had their last one by 29. Another study showed women who gave birth after 40 were four times more likely to live to be a 100 years old.

No matter when you decide to have a kid, it should be the right time for you. It's worth noting that there may be plenty of other factors that contribute to living longer.

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