Delaying pregnancy (whether it's the first or second) and parenthood is no one's business but your own and your partner. Yet, come Christmas reunion, one or three relatives will probably end up reminding you of your ticking biological clock. Well, here is a comeback you can use to silence your nosy relatives.
A new study published in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society found that having a baby later in life can give you loads of benefits, including improved memory. Believe it or not, the study claimed that pregnancy after 35 years of age can boost your overall brainpower.
Researchers at the University of Southern California studied 830 post-menopausal women and tested their brain skills including verbal memory, executive function skills, and overall cognition. They zeroed in on factors such the age they first got their menstruation, the number of times they were pregnant, and the ages they were pregnant, to name a few, to evaluate the effects of the pregnancy age on their mental health.
The study found that women who had a baby after the age of 35 had sharper verbal memory and better mental agility in middle-age years than those who stopped having children earlier. It also found that women who had babies after the age of 24 were better at problem-solving and mental reasoning than those women who gave birth earlier. The researchers argue that the improvement is due to the surge of pregnancy hormones that affect the body's chemistry and function. And if you got pregnant later in life, the positive changes stays with you longer and well into your 40s and 50s.
While this is the first study to examine how pregnancy timing affects the memory, its findings are still not enough of a reason to delay having kids. "While it is not enough to suggest that women wait until after 35 years of age to close their family growth, our finding of a positive effect of later age at last pregnancy on late-life cognition is novel and substantial," cautions lead study author Dr. Roksana Karim of the University of Southern California.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, a woman's fertility starts to decrease at age 32 and becomes increasingly less after age 37. Women have a fixed number of eggs our ovaries can produce and as we age, our ovaries produce less eggs. The eggs are also not as easily fertilized in older women as they are in younger women. Add to that the many number of pregnancy complications that older women are prone to have when they conceive late.
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So if you want to play it safe and still get the possible brainpower benefits of being pregnant at a later age, start trying by age 24. According to the study women who had their first baby between ages 15 and 24 showed to have the worse mental health and cognitive functions when they hit the big 4-0. On the other hand, getting pregnant during your younger years can be advantageous in that you're probably more physically fit and have more patience to raise kids. It's a trade-off only you and/or your husband can decide on.