Being a mother really does age you, study finds

Health 16:39 09.04.2024

Exasperated mothers often warn that their children “will be the death of them”, and a new study suggests there may be some truth in the admonishment.

Pregnancy accelerates biological ageing, with each baby causing women to grow older by up to 2.8 months, scientists have discovered.

Carrying a child is known to have long-term health impacts, but previous studies have found they are largely beneficial, such as lowering the risk of cancer and dementia.

Now new research by Columbia University in New York has shown that pregnancy takes such a toll on the body that it causes a woman to age internally.

Alterations to DNA
The research, which was carried out on 1,735 young people in the Philippines, looked at alterations to DNA to calculate the biological age of mothers compared to their actual age.

Throughout life, as a person ages, small molecules get added to their DNA, giving updated instructions about how to function. These “tags” accumulate at a steady rate and can be used as a kind of clock that reveals age.

‌Each additional pregnancy was associated with between 2.4 and 2.8 months of accelerated biological ageing.

The team found that men were not impacted in the same way, with their DNA unaffected by fatherhood, which implies that it is something about pregnancy or breastfeeding specifically that accelerates biological ageing, the researchers said.

“Our findings suggest that pregnancy speeds up biological ageing and that these effects are apparent in young, high-fertility women,” said Dr Calen Ryan, lead author of the study and associate research scientist in the Columbia Aging Center.

“Our results are also the first to follow the same women through time, linking changes in each woman’s pregnancy number to changes in her biological age.

“Ultimately I think our findings highlight the potential long-term impacts of pregnancy on women’s health, and the importance of taking care of new parents, especially young mothers.”

Exasperated mothers often warn that their children “will be the death of them”, and a new study suggests there may be some truth in the admonishment.

Pregnancy accelerates biological ageing, with each baby causing women to grow older by up to 2.8 months, scientists have discovered.

Carrying a child is known to have long-term health impacts, but previous studies have found they are largely beneficial, such as lowering the risk of cancer and dementia.

Now new research by Columbia University in New York has shown that pregnancy takes such a toll on the body that it causes a woman to age internally.

Alterations to DNA
The research, which was carried out on 1,735 young people in the Philippines, looked at alterations to DNA to calculate the biological age of mothers compared to their actual age.

Throughout life, as a person ages, small molecules get added to their DNA, giving updated instructions about how to function. These “tags” accumulate at a steady rate and can be used as a kind of clock that reveals age.

‌Each additional pregnancy was associated with between 2.4 and 2.8 months of accelerated biological ageing.

The team found that men were not impacted in the same way, with their DNA unaffected by fatherhood, which implies that it is something about pregnancy or breastfeeding specifically that accelerates biological ageing, the researchers said.

“Our findings suggest that pregnancy speeds up biological ageing and that these effects are apparent in young, high-fertility women,” said Dr Calen Ryan, lead author of the study and associate research scientist in the Columbia Aging Center.

“Our results are also the first to follow the same women through time, linking changes in each woman’s pregnancy number to changes in her biological age.

“Ultimately I think our findings highlight the potential long-term impacts of pregnancy on women’s health, and the importance of taking care of new parents, especially young mothers.”

Harmful mutations 
Individuals carrying mutations that predisposed them to have relatively high numbers of children had a lower probability of living to the age of 76 compared with those carrying mutations that predisposed them to having fewer or no children.

The American evolutionary biologist George Williams suggested in 1957 that harmful mutations that damage longevity may end up being favored through natural selection if they increase fertility – a theory known as the antagonistic pleiotropy theory of aging.

Pleiotropy is the phenomenon where one gene controls more than one trait, and Williams’s idea was that bad traits would always be passed on if they went hand-in-hand with increased fertility but did not emerge until after reproductive age.

However, there is also evidence that having more children may protect women from some diseases of ageing.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in California found that compared with women with one child, women who had three or more children had a 12 per cent lower risk of dementia.

It has also been shown that a successful pregnancy can lower the lifetime risk of breast cancer by around 50 per cent and 30 to 40 per cent of developing ovarian cancer.

The research was published in the journal PNAS.

Euronews broadcast interview with President Ilham Aliyev - VIDEO

News line

UN reform needed more than ever, must start with Security Council — Türkiye's mission
UN reform needed more than ever, must start with Security Council — Türkiye's mission
09:25 25.06.2024
US may set up military bases in Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana
09:10 25.06.2024
Ambassador: Opening Baku-Cairo direct flights to contribute to tourism growth
21:00 24.06.2024
Media: EU to approve agreement with Ukraine on security guarantees on June 25
20:30 24.06.2024
The first day of the Cooperation Forum of Azerbaijani NGOs in Zangilan has ended - UPDATED - VIDEO
20:29 24.06.2024
Baku, Cairo enjoy full understanding of all international issues: Azerbaijan ambassador
Baku, Cairo enjoy full understanding of all international issues: Azerbaijan ambassador
20:23 24.06.2024
Ambassador: Azerbaijan expects increase in trade turnover with Egypt by 2024-end
20:00 24.06.2024
Nine may be trapped in burning building in Moscow
Nine may be trapped in burning building in Moscow
19:30 24.06.2024
Death toll in attacks on Gaza surpasses 37,600, Palestine health ministry says
19:00 24.06.2024
Poland to hold joint exercises with France, Germany in 2025
Poland to hold joint exercises with France, Germany in 2025
18:30 24.06.2024
China criticizes US for selling arms to Taiwan
China criticizes US for selling arms to Taiwan
18:00 24.06.2024
EU sanctions Russia-linked cyberattack actors
EU sanctions Russia-linked cyberattack actors
17:30 24.06.2024
Israel reportedly warns Hezbollah against attack on it
17:15 24.06.2024
China: US should stop weaponizing economic issues
China: US should stop weaponizing economic issues
16:52 24.06.2024
Qaiser Nawab Expresses Heartfelt Condolences for Fallen Police Officers in Azerbaijan
16:32 24.06.2024
Poland greatly reduces issuance of visas
Poland greatly reduces issuance of visas
16:30 24.06.2024
Armed man surrenders after mall shooting in Russia's Rostov
16:12 24.06.2024
Umud Mirzayev, President of IEPF: "We must organize systematically and work harder to increase the number of our NGOs."
15:52 24.06.2024
Azerbaijan extends special COVID-19 quarantine
Azerbaijan extends special COVID-19 quarantine
15:41 24.06.2024
Armenia and Georgia to set up working group to deepen cooperation in tourism
Armenia and Georgia to set up working group to deepen cooperation in tourism
15:26 24.06.2024
COP29 presidency taking part in climate week in London
14:55 24.06.2024
Armenian Administrative Court grinds to a halt as staff strike over low wages
Armenian Administrative Court grinds to a halt as staff strike over low wages
14:40 24.06.2024
ANAMA unveils number of landmines found in liberated territories last week
ANAMA unveils number of landmines found in liberated territories last week
14:22 24.06.2024
Deadly blaze engulfs South Korean plant, claiming over 20 lives
14:12 24.06.2024
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General: Criminal case related to separatists will be sent to court soon
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General: Criminal case related to separatists will be sent to court soon
13:52 24.06.2024
Ban on transit of Russian LNG through EU ports to come into force in 9 months
Ban on transit of Russian LNG through EU ports to come into force in 9 months
13:37 24.06.2024
Azerbaijan weather forecast for June 25
Azerbaijan weather forecast for June 25
13:22 24.06.2024
Fire protection team leaders hold training-methodical session - VİDEO
Fire protection team leaders hold training-methodical session - VİDEO
12:50 24.06.2024
US Senator warns of sanctions over Georgia's ‘Foreign Agents Law’
US Senator warns of sanctions over Georgia's ‘Foreign Agents Law’
12:33 24.06.2024
Dagestan terror attack claims 19 lives, including 15 law enforcement officers
12:14 24.06.2024
China’s Legal Treatise and Taiwan
12:10 24.06.2024
Clashes between protesters and police reignite in New Caledonia
Clashes between protesters and police reignite in New Caledonia
11:47 24.06.2024
President Ilham Aliyev offers condolences to head of Dagestan
11:33 24.06.2024
Kyrgyzstan President set to visit Belgium
Kyrgyzstan President set to visit Belgium
10:45 24.06.2024
Counterterrorism operation in Makhachkala and Derbent concludes
10:30 24.06.2024
FAO secures $25M deal to improve food security in Somalia
FAO secures $25M deal to improve food security in Somalia
10:20 24.06.2024
Over 15 police officers killed in Dagestan terror attack
Over 15 police officers killed in Dagestan terror attack
10:07 24.06.2024
US military says it destroyed three Houthi vessels in Red Sea
US military says it destroyed three Houthi vessels in Red Sea
13:58 23.06.2024
8 missing after landslide in rain-drenched central China county
8 missing after landslide in rain-drenched central China county
13:32 23.06.2024
Azerbaijan's liberated territories to host NGO forum for first time
Azerbaijan's liberated territories to host NGO forum for first time
13:28 23.06.2024
Hamısı