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Late motherhood boosts family lifespan
Date:5/3/2009

child after age 40. That confirmed earlier studies. But those studies did not determine if the women gave birth later and lived longer because of genes or because of social and environmental factors such as good nutrition or healthy living.

  • Brothers who had at least three sisters, including at least one sister who gave birth at age 45 or later, were 20 percent to 22 percent less likely to die during any year after age 50 than brothers who had no "late fertile" sisters. That indicates what earlier studies did not, namely, the same genes may influence the lifespan of both sexes and women's ability to give birth at older ages.

  • The brothers' wives didn't have longer lives, suggesting any environmental or social factors that influence lifespan had only a weak influence, and that genes may explain why brothers lived longer when they had a sister who gave birth in her 40s.

    The study didn't address how much longevity is due to genetics, but Smith says scientists believe genes account for up to 25 percent of differences in longevity.

    Smith conducted the study with two other University of Utah researchers: Richard Cawthon, a research associate professor of human genetics, and demographer Geraldine Mineau, a research professor and director of population sciences at the university's Huntsman Cancer Institute, where Smith also is an investigator. Other coauthors were demographer Alain Gagnon and sociologist Ryan Mazan of the University of Western Ontario, and demographer Bertrand Desjardins, of the University of Montreal.

    Good Genes Versus a Good Environment

    Smith says that during the last decade, "there have been several studies that show a number of species, including humans, are able to reproduce late without medical intervention and those females live longer." Other studies found that late menopause also is associated with women having prolonged fertility and longevity.

    "There is a genet
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  • Contact: Lee Siegel
    leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu
    801-581-8993
    University of Utah
    Source:Eurekalert  

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