Having children can make women's telomeres seem 11 years older

March 8, 2018, George Mason University
Human chromosomes (grey) capped by telomeres (white). Credit: PD-NASA; PD-USGOV-NASA

A recent study by George Mason University researchers in the Department of Global and Community Health found that women who have given birth have shorter telomeres compared to women who have not given birth. Telomeres are the end caps of DNA on our chromosomes, which help in DNA replication and get shorter over time. The length of telomeres has been associated with morbidity and mortality previously, but this is the first study to examine links with having children.

Their findings were published in Human Reproduction. The authors reported that telomeres among women who had children were the equivalent of 11 years shorter. This was a larger change than has been reported by other research groups for smoking or obesity. Dr. Anna Z. Pollack, lead author of the study, pointed out, "with cross-sectional data, we can't tell if having children is related to shortening of telomeres or merely whether women who have children start out with ." Additional factors to consider include stress and social support, as well as whether similar findings are seen in men.

The paper utilized data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is a nationally representative study in the United States. Pollack notes that these findings, "are preliminary and should be confirmed with prospective studies." The study was co-authored by Mason alumna, Kelsey Rivers, who completed the research study through a George Mason University Undergraduate Research Scholars Program award.

The article, "Parity associated with telomere length among US reproductive age women," is available online.

Explore further: For older men, short telomeres can be a sign of chronic stress

More information: A Z Pollack et al, Parity associated with telomere length among US reproductive age women, Human Reproduction (2018). DOI: 10.1093/humrep/dey024

Related Stories

For older men, short telomeres can be a sign of chronic stress

March 11, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Andrew Steptoe of University College London and his colleagues have found that telomere length can predict how long it takes older men to recover from stressful situations. Men with shorter telomeres have ...

Anxiety linked to shortened telomeres, accelerated aging: research

July 11, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Is anxiety related to premature aging? A new study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) shows that a common form of anxiety, known as phobic anxiety, was associated with shorter telomeres ...

New study identifies possible predictor for women's longevity

December 7, 2016
Death and taxes have long been said to be the only two things guaranteed in life. Exactly when someone will die, in most instances, remains a mystery. A new study, however, identifies one possible predictor—specifically, ...

Researchers find link between impatience and faster aging

February 23, 2016
A team of researchers with members from the U.S. and Singapore has found that young women who scored as more impatient on a common psychology test, tended to have shorter telomere length than their more patient peers. In ...

Sugary drinks linked to reduced DNA protection in Latino preschoolers

November 20, 2017
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by children between 2 and 3 years of age has been linked to shorter telomeres in a new, preliminary study by researchers from UC San Francisco. The study raises concerns, the researchers ...

Children with ADHD and their mothers may live less than average population

September 28, 2015
Psychiatric disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) impact family's emotions and social life. It is well known. What is new is that this condition also affects the DNA of patients and their parents. Brazilian ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new causes of cellular decline in prematurely aging kids

March 19, 2018
In a recent paper published in Cell Reports, Saint Louis University researchers have uncovered new answers about why cells rapidly age in children with a rare and fatal disease. The data points to cellular replication stress ...

Don't blame adolescent social behavior on hormones

March 19, 2018
Reproductive hormones that develop during puberty are not responsible for changes in social behavior that occur during adolescence, according to the results of a newly published study by a University at Buffalo researcher.

Stem cells treat macular degeneration

March 19, 2018
In July 2015, 86-year-old Douglas Waters developed severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He struggled to see things clearly, even when up close.

Measuring neutrophil motility could lead to accurate sepsis diagnosis

March 19, 2018
A microfluidic device developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators may help solve a significant and persistent challenge in medicine—diagnosing the life-threatening complication of sepsis. In their paper ...

Democratizing science: Researchers make neuroscience experiments easier to share, reproduce

March 16, 2018
Over the past few years, scientists have faced a problem: They often cannot reproduce the results of experiments done by themselves or their peers.

Human 'chimeric' cells restore crucial protein in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

March 16, 2018
Cells made by fusing a normal human muscle cell with a muscle cell from a person with Duchenne muscular dystrophy —a rare but fatal form of muscular dystrophy—were able to significantly improve muscle function when implanted ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.