Women’s expected longevity is associated with maternal age at birth of last-child

The study looks at leukocyte telomere length to link reproductive history and long-term health.

Leukocyte telomere length may offer some critical insights into a woman’s longevity, suggests a new study. This is not the first time that leukocyte telomeres have been considered a factor associated with women’s longevity.

Previous studies have suggested a link between telomere length and various chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, neurologic conditions, and various cancers.

The study demonstrates how maternal age at birth of the last child affects telomere length and long-term health. Also, it considered sociodemographic factors related to childbearing patterns and health decisions.

Telomeres are repeating DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes and have proven critical for maintaining genomic stability.

The study included more than 1,200 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women of various ethnicities and backgrounds from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It confirmed that maternal age at last birth is positively associated with telomere length.

Meanwhile, women who delivered their last child later in life were likely to have longer telomeres.

Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director, said“More research is needed to determine whether older maternal age at last birth causes telomeres to lengthen or whether telomere length serves as a proxy for general health and corresponds with a woman’s ability to have a child at a later age.”

Study results are published online today in Menopause.

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