New study  found that pregnancy can cause aging in women earlier than normal. (Representational image: Unsplash)
New study found that pregnancy can cause aging in women earlier than normal. (Representational image: Unsplash)

Researchers Found that Pregnancy Causes Aging

New study found that pregnancy can cause aging in women earlier than normal.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pregnant women show more signs of biological aging as compared to those who are not pregnant and haven't been before. During this study, researchers also found that the process of biological aging accelerates in women who have had more than one pregnancy.

In 2005, 1,735 individuals were selected from the Philippines, ranging in age from 20 to 22. The blood samples were analyzed in the research along with the data from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey.

Some variables were taken into consideration while taking the samples, like socioeconomic and pollution-related variables, that could affect the aging process in both men and women. Apart from this, the reproductive and sexual backgrounds of the participants were also noted, along with the history of previous pregnancies.

“We’re learning that pregnancy has long-term effects on the body. They are not all bad, but it seems to increase the risk of some diseases and all-cause mortality,"

Calen Ryan, Research Scientist at the Columbia University Ageing Center (Mailman School of Public Health)

The findings were compared with data collected from a smaller group of female participants from 2009 to 2014.

The blood samples were analyzed for various biological indicators linked to aging, including changes in the DNA called epigenetic modifications.

Molecular marks can be observed in cells as they mature, which indicates whether the genes are activated or deactivated. This provides an indicator of the biological age of cells. These markers can also show the impacts of factors such as stress and other physiological and psychological experiences on cells, causing them to appear either older or younger than their chronological age. These are called "epigenetic clocks."

Researchers use 6 epigenetic clocks to identify 19 different indicators that affect biological age.

According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pregnant women show more signs of biological aging as compared to those who are not pregnant and haven't been before.  (Representational image: Unsplash)
According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pregnant women show more signs of biological aging as compared to those who are not pregnant and haven't been before. (Representational image: Unsplash)

The findings of this study were:

  • Women who had a history of pregnancy showed signs of accelerated biological aging compared to women of the same age who had never experienced pregnancy.

  • It was found that pregnancy accelerated aging by approximately 3 percent per year as compared to women with no history of pregnancy. This can result in an acceleration of four months to over a year in biological age.

  • The impact of multiple pregnancies on aging was also studied. Women with a history of multiple pregnancies aged up to five months faster than those with fewer pregnancies, resulting in an acceleration of almost 2 percent per pregnancy.

“Research into the effects of pregnancy on aging has shown some interesting findings. One notable study published in 2019 in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ suggested that pregnancy may accelerate cellular aging, specifically in the telomeres - protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age. Telomere shortening is associated with cellular aging and has been linked to age-related diseases,”

Dr Chetna Jain, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals (Gurgaon)

New study  found that pregnancy can cause aging in women earlier than normal. (Representational image: Unsplash)
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It's important to consider what we mean by ‘aging’ at a biological level. Aging involves a gradual decline in cellular function and physiological processes over time, which can lead to increased susceptibility to diseases and an overall decline in health. Factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and environmental influences play significant roles in determining the rate at which an individual ages.

 A research team from the Yale School of Medicine published a paper in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism reported that faster acceleration in aging because of pregnancy was found to be gradually reversed a few months post-partum.

“The reversal in postpartum in terms of the effect size was much greater than the increase in biological age found during pregnancy. That raises the provocative idea that pregnancy may be associated with potential rejuvenation. But we simply can’t answer that question for sure with the data we have so far.”

Kieran O’Donnell, Head Researcher ( Yale School of Medicine)

Each woman has her own journey through pregnancy. Some have it easy; others face immense mental and physical changes in their bodies. It’s clear that more research is needed to conclude whether the effects that pregnancy has on accelerating biological aging can be completely reversed post-pregnancy or not.

(Input from various media sources)

(Rehash/Dr. Pragati Priya/SB)

New study  found that pregnancy can cause aging in women earlier than normal. (Representational image: Unsplash)
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