NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 30, 2006

Firstborn children of women younger than 25 are almost twice as likely to defy the average life span and go on to live beyond 100, according to a new study.

Leonid A. Gavrilov and his colleagues at the University of Chicago's Center for Aging compared genealogy records to death indexes to study the phenomenon, and found:

  • Firstborn children of young mothers were 1.7 times more likely to live to the age of 100.
  • The age of the father did not seem to make a difference on the life span of his progeny.

Although there is no clear answer yet as to why this is the case, scientists have their own theories:

  • Some believe the phenomenon may be related to the physical youthfulness of young mothers and the eggs they produce.
  • Another theory, still unexplored, is that younger women haven't been exposed to as many viruses and diseases as older women, which in turn makes for a healthier uterine environment.

Overall, the study results could have implications for the current generation of women who are pushing back motherhood.  The scientists add that early-life factors may be important clues to age-related illness and longevity.

Source: Jamie Talan, "Young mothers' firstborns live longer," St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 26, 2006.

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