Women are generally told having a baby late leads to complications but a study has shown that there is actually a positive connection between having a last baby at a later age and cognition in late life.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers were able to show that women end up with better brain power after menopause not only if they had their last baby after 35 years, but also if they took hormonal contraceptives for over a decade or had their first menstrual cycle before the age of 13.

This isn't to say that the researchers are recommending that women wait until they are 35 years old to plan for their last baby but the study is the first to examine the association between a woman's age at the time they had their last baby and late-life cognitive function. Age at last pregnancy is considered a marker for a later surge of hormones related to pregnancy.

Effects Of Late Last-Pregnancy

Earlier studies have shown that a lot of women typically experience declines in memory and brain power once they enter their postmenopausal years. Based on their findings, however, the researchers for the current study saw that women who gave birth for the last time after age 35 had better verbal memory after menopause.

This may have to do with the surge of progesterone and estrogen later in life, said Roksana Karim, the current study's lead author. In animal studies, progesterone has been linked with the development of and growth in brain tissue, while estrogen offers benefits that affect brain structure, function and chemistry.

Benefits Of A Longer Reproductive Life

"Starting your period early means you have higher levels of the female sex hormone being produced by the ovaries," said Karim.

With girls receiving optimal amounts of the hormone early, they may have brain structures that are better developed than those whose estrogen exposure was at a later age.

Contraceptive use also offered benefit for critical thinking and verbal memory ability and Karim pointed out that this may be due to the medication maintaining and sustaining a stable amount of sex hormones in a woman's body.

The Curious Case Of The Pregnancy Brain

While having a last pregnancy late appears to offer cognitive benefits, pregnancy itself poses challenges in the form of "pregnancy brain." Previous research have shown pregnant women can have poorer word fluency, word-list learning and verbal memory than women who aren't pregnant but researchers from the current study say that there are many other bodily changes and social stressors that can influence emotional and cognitive functions in pregnant women beyond hormone levels.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.