Number of times a person gives birth could affect the body's physical aging process, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The researchers analyzed several different measures that represent how a person's body is aging and found that people who had few births or many seemed to have aged quicker compared to those who had given birth 3 or 4 times. However, these outcomes were found only after a person had gone through menopause.
"Our findings hint that pregnancy and birth may add to the changing and dysregulation of several distinct physiological systems that could affect aging once a person is post-menopause," stated Talia Shirazi, a doctoral candidate.
According to the experts, pregnancy and breastfeeding use a large amount of the body's energy and could affect many of its systems, including metabolism, immune function, and blood pressure, among others. Additionally, individuals who have given birth are more prone to die from kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension, among other conditions, compared to those who have not.
The researchers were inquisitive about how the body balances these "costs of reproduction" and whether it affects how the body ages.
The researchers utilized data on 4418 participants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the research. Data included information regarding reproductive health, including the number of live births and whether they had gone through menopause or not.
The researchers estimated biological aging in several ways based on 9 biomarkers designed to assess metabolic health, liver and kidney function, anemia and red blood cell disorders, and immune function and inflammation.
The researchers discovered a "U shaped relationship" between the number of live births and accelerated physiological aging. Those reporting zero or some live births, or reporting many live births, had markers of quicker biological aging compared to those who reported three or four live births.
Hastings said the study also suggests that added research can be done to understand the processes that may be involved in the relationship between aging and having kids and how these processes work overtime.