Good news to women who find themselves pregnant at an older age. While it can be challenging to be a mother when you're no longer as young as before, a new research suggests that a woman's ability to give birth later in life is positively associated with longevity.
A new study found that women who last gave birth after turning 33 years old are likely to live longer than their counterparts whose youngest child was born before they reached 30 years old.
For the study which was published in the Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society on June 23, Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues used data from the Long Life Family Study (LLFS), an international genetic study of more than 500 families with members who reach exceptionally advanced ages, to examine the link between the age of a woman when she gave birth to her last child and her chances to live at an old age.
The researchers particularly examined the ages of 462 women when they have last given birth and their ages when they died and found that those who were over 33 years old when they had their last child were twice likely to live up to 95 years old or over compared with those who gave birth to their lastborn by 29 years of age.
Although the findings of the study did not find a cause and effect relationship, the researchers said the ability to give birth at an older age suggests that a woman's reproductive system as well as the rest of her body age slowly.
"While this documented relationship is noteworthy, what is more meaningful is that these findings support the need to conduct additional studies that identify the various genetic influences on reproductive fitness, as these could also influence the rate of aging and a woman's susceptibility to age-related diseases," said [pdf] Margery Gass, from The North American Menopause Society.
The researchers also pointed out the possibility that the gene variations that allow women to give birth at a later age are associated with the ability to have longer lives.
"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," said Perls adding that this may explain why 85 percent of women can survive up to 100 years or more compared with only 15 percent of men.