A 2016 study by Simon Fraser University researchers found that the more kids a woman has, the slower she ages.
Researchers suggest the number of children born to a woman influences the rate at which her body ages. Health sciences researchers found women who give birth to more surviving children exhibited longer telomeres. Telomeres are the protective tips at the end of each DNA strand and are indicative of cellular aging. Longer telomeres are integral to cell replication and associated with longevity.
The study assessed the number of children born to 75 women and were done over 13 years.
According to Nepomnaschy, a health sciences professor, the study findings contradicts life history theory which predicts that producing a higher number of offspring accelerates the pace of biological aging. "The slower pace of telomere shortening found in the study participants who have more children however, may be attributed to the dramatic increase in estrogen, a hormone produced during pregnancy,"
The social environment that the study participants live in may also influence the relationship between their reproductive efforts and the pace of aging. "The women we followed over the course of the study were from natural fertility populations where mothers who bear numerous children receive more social support from their relatives and friends," explains Nepomnaschy. "Greater support leads to an increase in the amount of metabolic energy that can be allocated to tissue maintenance, thereby slowing down the process of aging."