Genetics May Play A Part In Delaying Motherhood


The decision to have children later in life is not just a growing social trend. In fact, according to one study, it may have something to do with genetics.

After studying the DNA of nearly 7,000 women, researchers at Oxford discovered that women are having children later in life despite an apparent genetic urge to have them younger.

Researchers explored women who were mothers at different ages and found that DNA explained 15% of the variation in the ages of first-time mothers and made up 10% of the difference in how many children they decided to have. The study is interesting, since sociologists have focused on non-biological reasons for why women might delay motherhood like the rise of contraception, continuing education and staking a claim in the work world.

“What we see in this study is a clear genetic component linked to the age of mothers when they have their first child, and to the number of children they have,” Melinda Mills of Oxford University said.

The study did not focus on one gene as the primary cause of this urge, but noted that a later study will focus on a number of genes that are involved in the process.

“It’s not one gene, but a combination of genetic variants that makes you more prone to having your children later or earlier” Mills said. “What we should see is women having children earlier and earlier, but they are not doing that.”

Researchers are now attempting to pinpoint why certain women chose to delay motherhood. While social factors are certainly apart of that decision, genetics may reveal what else is going on, especially in charges of fertility over time.

Ultimately, the researchers hope their studies will allow people to make more informed decisions about choosing to delay motherhood.

Source: The Guardian


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