No one knows for sure how long they will live.
But in a recent study published in Menopause, researchers found that telomere length may offer some key insights into a woman’s longevity.
They also showed how maternal age at birth of the last child affects telomere length and long-term health.
Telomeres are repeating DNA-protein complexes that protect the ends of chromosomes and have proven to be critical for maintaining genomic stability.
Previous studies suggested a link between telomere length and various chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some neurologic conditions, and various cancers.
A smaller study previously suggested that maternal age at the birth of a woman’s last child affected telomere length.
In this study, the team used data from more than 1,200 older women of various ethnicities and backgrounds from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The study confirmed that maternal age at last birth is positively linked to telomere length, meaning that women who delivered their last child later in life were likely to have longer telomeres, a biomarker of long-term health and longevity.
This finding was restricted to women with one or two live births or who had used oral contraceptives.
The team says 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.
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