Mums who have babies later in life may live longer than those who have children while they are young, according to new research.
The Long Life Family Study (LLFS) found that the odds of living up to the top fifth percentile were two times higher for women who had their last child past the age of 33 years than for those who had their last child before the age of 29, News Medical reports.
The study "Telomere length is longer in women with late maternal age", which was published in the journal of the North American Menopause Society, used data from the LLFS and found that certain factors associated with the rate of aging and longevity, such as telomere length, are also associated with later maternal age at the birth of the last child.
Telomeres are parts of human cells which affect how cells age. They are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protects the chromosomes - like plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Short telomeres are a sign of advanced biological age, while longer telomeres are linked to longer life.
The research found that women who had their last child at 33 or older had longer telomeres than those in their 20s. Compared with women who had their last child at 29, women of older age at the birth of their last child were found to have increased odds of being in the longest tertile of telomere length.
“With longevity and the ability to bear children at an older age associated with longer telomere length, this study suggests that a higher maternal age of successful child bearing may be a marker of healthy aging,” North American Menopause Society executive director Dr JoAnn Pinkerton explained.
"However, it's important to remember that personal and social factors often influence childbearing age, and these factors may not have any relation to either a woman's ability to bear children at later ages, longevity, or telomere length."