A new study shows that women who start having children later in life may live longer. This study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that women who were older than 25 when they first gave birth were 11% more likely to live to age 90. Over 20,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative were included in the study. This finding held true even after accounting for differences in race, education, income, marital status, BMI, smoking, alcohol consumption, and contraceptive use.
The same study also showed that white women who had two to four children were more likely to live longer than those who had one. The same relationship was not found among black women.
The study was not designed to determine why these relationships exist, but it’s reasonable to speculate that social factors likely play a role. For instance, women who delay childbearing often do so to pursue education and career goals. Since education and income are often paired, these women may have better access to healthcare.
Although these results are reassuring for women who choose to start having children later in life, it is important to note that this study does not advocate for delaying childbearing. Later pregnancies, especially after 35 years old, are linked to more complications. In addition, as women age, it becomes more difficult to conceive and the risk of miscarriage increases.
The physicians at Reproductive Partners recommend that all women who want children in the future speak with their gynecologists or a fertility specialist regarding their reproductive plans. A basic fertility evaluation, including ovarian reserve testing, can help women understand their future fertility potential. For women who want to significantly delay childbearing, this also gives them the opportunity to discuss options such as fertility preservation/egg freezing.