A recent study suggests that delaying childbirth may help you live much longer than the average woman.
Women who had their last child after the age of 33 doubled their chances of living to 95 or older, unlike women who had their last child before their 30th birthday, according to a study published in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.
“The natural ability to have a child at an older age likely indicates that a woman’s reproductive system is aging slowly, and therefore, so is the rest of her body,” research director Thomas Perls said in a news release.
Unlike other aging and fertility research, which focus on a woman’s age at first birth, this study looked at when women had their last child.
“In my experience, women are often delaying starting a family,” says Dr. Heather Herbolsheimer, obstetrician/gynecologist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “This occurs for a variety of reasons. Women may wish to be established in their careers, and societal norms have changed. Now, it is considered socially acceptable to have children in your mid-30s–or even later.”
In this new era, Dr. Herbolshimer sees several benefits for women waiting to delay childbirth.
“Women who choose to wait are often well-educated and lead healthy lifestyles,” she says. “Being healthy prior to pregnancy certainly helps in achieving a successful pregnancy and remaining healthy during child rearing. Whether this leads to a longer lifespan, or if healthier women that have children later in life live longer is difficult to say.”
Perls also found that there is a positive association, not causation, between older maternal age and greater odds for surviving to an unusually old age. He also warned that longevity should not be used as a reason to postpone having children.