In research that will surprise absolutely no mom ever, it has been revealed that each pregnancy ages a mother by up to two years! This aging is a result of a woman's DNA changing with every pregnancy that she goes through. In fact, the more pregnancies a woman has, the more that her DNA will age. Women with more than four children were found to experience the greatest effects of this phenomenon.
The research specifically focused on telomere length and epigenetic age. These are both genetic markers that are linked to predicting mortality. With pregnancies, the cellular DNA changes and in the end, the DNA was prematurely aged, which could ultimately affect lifespan and overall health. Women with children have joked for years about their children aging them but until now, actual genetic changes that have accelerated the aging process have never been proven.
In completely opposite findings, during pregnancy, these same cells were actually younger in a woman's body. This may lead to that certain glow and luscious hair that some pregnant women have while they are with child, but that quickly fades during the newborn weeks, and the subsequent years of parenting, stress, and worry.
The study was led by Calen Ryan and Christopher Kuzawa from Northwestern University in Chicago and Dan Eisenberg at the University of Washington. It was recently published in Science Reports. They sampled hundreds of women in the Philippines, ages 20-22, who had up to five children. They found that each birth aged a woman from six months up to two years. The more children a woman had, the older her DNA had become. The researchers themselves were surprised by the level of aging that the women experienced.
It’s important to note that the area of the Philippines that was examined is more rural than other parts, and physical labor is more common. The lifestyles of the women studied could also lead to the premature aging, but this component wouldn't necessarily lead to the aging of DNA, which is really what makes these results so interesting. The outcome could be different in the United States, or even Europe where workloads are less and women have easier access to health care.
Most moms know that their children are quickening their aging process, but who would have thought that their births were actually changing DNA for the worse?
What do you think of these findings? Have your children aged you? How old do you feel now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!