With it becoming more and more common for women to pursue education and career goals, childbearing is often put on hold. And, while having children later in life is associated with higher complications, a new study reveals that delaying children may be linked to a longer lifespan.
In a new study at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, a research team led by post-doctoral fellow Aladdin Shadyab studied about 20,000 post-menopausal women, more than half of which were over the age of 90.
The team found that compared to women who gave birth before the age of 25, those who delayed childbearing past that age were 11% more likely to have a longer life. More specifically, these women had greater chances to live to the age of 90.
The researchers controlled for factors such as age, race, BMI. socioeconomic status and smoking status. Even after these factors were taken into account, the link between having children later in life and longevity still remained significant. However, the researchers found that in general, women who lived to the age of 90 were more likely to be married, be college graduates, have a higher income, and have lower rates of obesity and chronic diseases.
“Our findings do not suggest that women should delay having a child, as the risk of obstetric complications, including gestational diabetes and hypertension, is higher with older maternal ages. It is possible that surviving a pregnancy at an older age may be an indicator of good overall health, and as a result, a higher likelihood of longevity. It is also possible that women who were older when they had their first child were of a higher social and economic status, and therefore, were more likely to live longer.”