Women who become first-time mothers later in their lives increase their chances of living into their 90s, a new University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine study has found.
The study, published online in the American Journal of Public Health on Nov. 17, found an association between a woman's age at childbirth and parity, or the number of times a woman has been pregnant, and survival.
“The findings indicate that women with two to four term pregnancies compared with a single term pregnancy were also more likely to live at least nine decades," said Aladdin Shadyab, PhD, lead author of the study with the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine, in a statement.
The study examined 20,248 women who were part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a national longitudinal investigation of women. The women were followed for up to 21 years.
Of the participants, 54 percent of the woman survived to 90 years old.
Women who lived to 90 years old were more likely to be college graduates, married and have a high income and were less likely to be obese or have a history of chronic disease, the study found.
“Our findings do not suggest that women should delay having a child, as the risk of obstetric complications, including gestational diabetes and hypertension, is higher with older maternal ages," said Shadyab in a statement. "It is possible that surviving a pregnancy at an older age may be an indicator of good overall health, and as a result, a higher likelihood of longevity."
At the time of pregnancy, the woman who were older may have already been of higher social and economic status, and therefore, more likely to live longer, he said.