Older Moms More Likely to Live Long, Long Lives

Illustration for article titled Older Moms More Likely to Live Long, Long Lives

Here's an interesting little factoid: According to a newly released study, women still having babies after 33 are more likely to live long, long lives. Not sure how to square this with parents' complaints that their kids are driving them into an early grave, but you're the boss, science.


The Boston Globe reports on a study published today in Menopause (which is a scientific journal and not a quarterly publication of the AARP). Researchers crunched numbers from the Long Life Family Study, comparing 311 women who lived to 95 with 151 women who died younger. The results were pretty damn striking:

Those who got pregnant naturally and successfully birthed their last child after age 33 were twice as likely to live to age 95 compared to those who had their last child by age 29.

Twice! Two times! Double the odds!

This does not mean that if you push your pregnancies as late as possible, you're automatically granted a ticket to the Century Club. The study only considered women who'd conceived without any fertility drugs (not that this particular cohort likely had access to many). There's zero advice here.

The important thing is sheer genetic ability. In short, if your uterus is aging slowly, so's the rest of you, probably. One of the researchers basically said as much (via Boston.com), and explained to the Washington Post:

"We think the same genes that allow a woman to naturally have a kid at an older age are the same genes that play a really important role in slowing down the rate of aging and decreasing the risk for age-related diseases, such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and cancer," said Thomas Perls, a professor who specializes in geriatrics at Boston University Medical Center, and a principal investigator of the study.


He pointed to Halle Berry, who suspected she was entering menopause at 46 but was, whoops, pregnant with her second child. "Look how incredibly young she looks," Perls added. (Let's keep it professional, here, Thomas.) "If we can better understand the biological pathways that these genes govern, we might find drugs that do the same things as the genes," he explained.

Shout out to my great-grandmother Mary Lou, who gave birth to my grandfather at 37 (I think?) and lived to be 107, though she'd totally lie and add a year.


Photo via Paul Hakimata Photography/Shutterstock.



Is this controlled for income and education? Because my understanding is that people with more education, and therefor greater income, are more likely to have kids later in life than less educated people who start (and would probably also finish?) younger. Having a higher income would also afford better healthcare, so I wouldn't be surprised about a longer lifespan when taking that into account.