Hello!

My sister is three years older than me but looks at least ten years younger. So what’s her secret? Well, she doesn’t have kids!

A new study has confirmed what mums have suspected for years. Women who have children may age at a more rapid speed than women with no biological kids.

The results, published in the medical journal Human Reproduction indicate that having a child could age women up to 11 years.

During the study, researchers examined the chromosomes in blood samples of almost 2,000 American women aged between 20 and 44. They were particularly interested in a compound structure called telomeres, which sit at the end of a chromosome to protect DNA from degeneration. Every time a cell regenerates, the telomeres get a little shorter – in this way, they are the cell’s aging clock.

Having shorter telomeres has been linked to a variety of health conditions as well as physical signs of aging like graying hair.

The scientists discovered that those women with kids had telomeres that were 4.2 percent shorter on average than those without.

11 Years Older

“It is equivalent to around 11 years of accelerated cellular aging,” Anna Pollack, lead author of the paper, told New Scientist.

And it is a more substantial change than you see in studies related to smoking and obesity, she added.

The consequence of this accelerated aging that could be caused by having children could include prematurely gray hair, as well as more serious side-effects such as increasing mortality rates and the early onset of age-related health conditions.

The study does not make it clear why the telomeres become shorter following childbirth, so more research may need to be undertaken.

Interestingly, this study has nothing to do with raising children so women who adopt or foster children are not, in theory, affected by these findings. This study is only concerned with the aging of women who are biological mothers.

Don’t Stop Having Kids

But the authors of this study warned against taking the results too serious.

Ms Pollack says that this should not encourage women to stop having children.

She also indicated that other factors that were not looked into in this particular study could also play a part. Because the study was conducted in the US with participants who had had live births in the US, the lack of mandatory maternity leave could be a factor. It is important to note here that the US is the only country in the developed world that does not have mandatory maternity (or paternity) leave for new parents.

Pollack admitted that this could be a factor that generates stress in mothers, which may play a part in cellular aging, too.

At least, now we start getting those gray hairs, we can confidently blame our kids for causing them.

Do you agree with the results of this study? Has having kids made you feel older? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Wow some eye watering statistics here

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  • I would like to see what age group was studied for this cellular aging. Women are having children at a much older age now than any other time in history. That could also have an effect on cellular aging. In my case I had all my children before I was 26 and loved learning skills such as sailing, water skiing, hiking and bushwalking with them and also indulged in horseback riding with them too. My children these days tell me I am old, but I don’t feel it so maybe if you don’t have children until you are late 30’s or early 40’s that may have a detrimental effect on your body.

    Reply

  • Not sure I completely agree, a lot of other things would have an impact also.

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  • Wow! I’m inclined to believe this… After 2 children I certainly feel about 20 years older….

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  • Nonsense! However I do feel 10 years older than my age so for me it’s true…lol

    Reply

  • This sounds more like a “tongue in cheek study” so I’d take the results with a pinch of salt. I wouldn’t believe the study too much otherwise some women might decide they don’t want to look older than they are so won’t have children.

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  • Well my husband would say having a child aged him. He’s lost most of his hair, and the little has left is grey. We can chart it from when our son was born!!

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  • That is scarey to hear that!! Im not sure I believe it though. You would have to look at lifestyle factors too.

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  • I’m sure it’s more than 11 years. 111 years more like

    Reply

  • I actually think having kids keeps one young!


    • I agree! It gives a different dimension and outlook to life.

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  • Children have provided a wonderful and different energy to my life and it has not ‘aged’ me.

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  • Interesting that it is a more substantial change than you see in studies related to smoking and obesity.
    Also interesting that it’s related to our biological kids and has nothing to do with raising children so women who adopt or foster children are not, in theory, affected by these findings.
    I have both biological children and foster children and with one of our foster children we’ve experienced lots of problems and escalations…to be honest I’ve felt the last couple of years that I’ve aged because of the troubles we’ve had with this foster child.
    At the same time that our bodies degenerate I do think that children also can keep us young and on our toes !

    Reply

  • I definitely believe this. We stress over our kids until theyre adults and put all our energy into them.


    • I don’t think it’s about the stress as the article says this study has nothing to do with raising children so women who adopt or foster children are not, in theory, affected by these findings. This study is only concerned with the aging of women who are biological mothers. So it’s really about cellular aging

    Reply

  • I thought it would be the constant stress and worry we put on ourselves. This is a very interesting read and I do agree with it, since having children I’m actually looking my age and have early onset osteoarthritis

    Reply

  • I would agree with this. I feel old and I’m only 35???? But having kids is worth it!

    Reply

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