Long life linked to late life motherhood

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Sun 07/06/2014

Clip art Women who have children naturally later in life live longer. The genetic variants that make this possible might also facilitate exceptionally long life spans. A new study from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) says women who are able to have children after the age of 33 have a greater chance of living longer than women who had their last child before turning 30. Don’t put off having children to ensure greater longevity longer The relationship between longevity and last birth is likely not causal. “Of course this does not mean women should wait to have children at older ages in order to improve their own chance of living longer,” noted author Thomas Perls, MD, MPH. “The age at last childbirth can be a rate of aging indicator. The natural ability to have a child at an older age likely indicates that a woman’s reproductive system is aging slowly and therefore so is the rest of her body.” Women may have the genes for increasing age The study also showed that women may be the genetic driving force behind the evolution of genetic variants that slow aging and decrease risk for age-related genetic disorders. “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,” explained Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS), a principal investigator of the Long Life Family Study and a professor medicine at BUSM. “This possibility may be a clue as to why 85% of women live to 100 or more years while only 15% of men do.” This study shows the need for further study on genetic influences of reproductive fitness because they may impact rate of aging and susceptibility to age-related illness like dementia and Alzheimer disease.

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