Apart from being more secure financially, and equipped with more life experience, having a baby in your 30s could have another—unexpected—benefit: improved longevity.
According to the Long Life Family study, the connection between waiting to have babies and living longer is down to DNA.
Each DNA strand has a cap on the end called a ‘telomere’. As we grow older, the telomeres shorten—science has also confirmed the converse, with longer telomeres linked to longer lifespans.
So how does becoming a mother factor in to this relationship?
The study’s findings revealed that those women living into the top fifth percent were twice as likely to have had their last child after the age of 33, as opposed to those who capped childbearing at 29.
In short, longer telomeres and longer lives had an interconnecting link: successfully reproducing at an advanced maternal age, and the advantage also increased through time—Professor Dr Nicole Schupf at Columbia University Medical Centre explained, “The strength of the association with the longest telomere length increased as the maternal age at birth of last child became later in life.”
Says Professor Schupf, “This finding suggests that late maternal age at last child birth is a marker for rate of ageing and, if heritable, might be associated with genetic variants playing a role in exceptional survival.”
Basically, the research project is one more piece of evidence helping to dispel fears of waiting to start a family—or adding another to your brood later on!