Many women who have babies "later" in life worry that their mature age will mean they will have less time with their children. It makes sense — the longer you wait, the less time you have in the end, right? But according to a new study, this isn't actually the case.
The Long Life Family Study found that women who had their last child after 33 years old not only lived the longest when compared to mums who give birth at younger ages, but they also had double the chance of being in the last 5 percent of their birth cohorts. "Several studies have found that late maternal age at last childbirth is positively associated with maternal longevity," said Dr. Nicole Schupf, professor at Columbia University Medical Center. This study used information from that research and discovered a connection between the length of a woman's telomeres and the age in which she is able to still have a baby. Telomeres are the part of the cell that impacts how it ages and longer telomeres were found to be associated with being able to have children at an older age as well as increased longevity.
"This finding suggests that late maternal age at last child birth is a marker for rate of aging and, if heritable, might be associated with genetic variants playing a role in exceptional survival," Nicole said.
The study, which was published by The North American Menopause Society, looked at 386 women in the United States and Denmark who were all over 70 years old. "Compared with women who had their last child by the age of 29, women with a later age at birth of their last child —34 to 37 or over 38 — were found to have increased odds of being in the longest tertile of telomere length versus the shortest tertile of telomere length," Nicole said. "The strength of the association with the longest telomere length increased as the maternal age at birth of last child became later in life."
Although further research is needed on other influences that impact when women stop having children, this is good news for those who waited until they were at least in their 30s to complete their families.