Two studies looked at genetic markers in pregnant women’s blood cells. They found that pregnancy may age a woman’s cells faster than usual.

One study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 8, 2024, involved 825 young women in the Philippines. It found that pregnant women’s biological age was higher by several months compared to those who were not pregnant.

Another study from March, published in Cell Metabolism, tracked 119 pregnant American women. It showed that as pregnancy progressed, the women’s cells appeared to age up to two years. However, most women’s cells returned to a more youthful state within three months after giving birth, especially if they breastfed.

While some experts are skeptical about these findings, they suggest that the changes seen during pregnancy might reflect the body’s response to carrying a child rather than actual aging effects.

The public health implications of these studies are significant:

  1. Monitoring Health During Pregnancy: If epigenetic markers don’t return to normal after pregnancy, it could be an indicator for doctors to monitor a woman’s health more closely, such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  2. Postpartum Care: Understanding that most women’s cells return to a more youthful state after childbirth, especially with breastfeeding, highlights the importance of postpartum care. Encouraging breastfeeding and ensuring proper postpartum care could potentially benefit women’s long-term health.
  3. Health Education: Public health campaigns could use this information to educate women about the potential physical demands of pregnancy. This could help women make informed decisions about their health before, during, and after pregnancy.
  4. Further Research: More research is needed to validate these findings and understand the long-term implications. If these findings are confirmed, it could lead to new avenues of research on aging, longevity, and women’s health.
  5. Policy and Support: Governments and healthcare systems might consider policies or programmes that support women’s health before, during, and after pregnancy, recognising the significant physical demands and potential health impacts.

Leave a Reply