Scientists say that pregnancy accelerates the aging of a woman, and breastfeeding rejuvenates her

Scientists say that pregnancy accelerates the aging of a woman, and breastfeeding rejuvenates her



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Pregnancy increases a woman’s biological age by two years, but it recovers in the postpartum period.

About this they tell at the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) with reference to the research of its scientists, published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

To make this discovery, Yale Children’s Center (YCSC) assistant professor Kieran O’Donnell and his team used a unique cohort of pregnant women. All of them provided their epigenetic data during pregnancy.

This allowed scientists to calculate indicators of biological age with the help of “epigenetic clocks” – biomarkers of aging, which are calculated on the basis of data on the level of methylation (modification) of DNA.

Scientists found out that within 20 weeks from the beginning of pregnancy, a woman’s biological or epigenetic age increases by about two years. This suggests that pregnancy does indeed accelerate aging.

However, when O’Donnell and his team examined the biological age of the same women three months after giving birth, they were surprised.

“We’ve seen a significant decline in biological age – as much as eight years for some people. There’s a clear (and pronounced) recovery in the postpartum period,” – commented O’Donnell.

In the study, the team also found that breastfeeding leads to a steeper decline in maternal biological age three months after giving birth, compared to rates during pregnancy.

O’Donnell believes these findings open up an interesting new direction for aging research.

“First, we do not know whether postpartum recovery effects are relevant to short- or long-term maternal health outcomes, and whether these effects accumulate over successive pregnancies.

Likewise, we do not know whether the postpartum decline in biological age is simply a restoration of the system to prepregnancy biological age or, more interestingly, pregnancy may have a rejuvenating effect.” – says the scientist.

Previously, scientists explained why modern women have more frequent periods than previous generations.


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