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Pregnancy increases your biological age, finds study, but there are ways to reverse it

While conventional wisdom suggests pregnancy ages women, a recent Yale Child Study Center study published in Cell Metabolism adds a surprising twist. The research indicates that pregnancy might increase a woman’s biological age by two years, but there’s a potential upside.....CONTINUE READING

The study, led by assistant professor Dr Kieran O’Donnell, found that giving birth can reverse this biological age by an impressive eight years for some individuals. “So, while pregnancy increases biological age there is a clear (and pronounced) recovery in the postpartum,” O’Donnell clarified in a Yale School of Medicine press release.

The research focused on DNA methylation patterns, an indicator of biological age. Unlike chronological age, biological age can fluctuate throughout life.

Dr Sonam Simpatwar, gynaecologist at Railway Hospital, Mumbai, explained that during pregnancy, your body endures considerable metabolic and physiological stress.

“This can lead to changes in DNA methylation—a process affecting how your genes function—and in the length of telomeres, which are the protective ends of your DNA strands. There’s also an increase in oxidative stress, which can damage cells. These changes can collectively speed up the biological ageing process,” she told indianexpress.com in an interaction.

Are there really ways to “decrease” your biological age after pregnancy?

Certain post-pregnancy lifestyle adjustments can help reverse or mitigate these effects, as pointed out in the study.

“Nutrition is key; ensuring you’re getting adequate and appropriate nutrients can support cellular repair and slow down the ageing process. Regular physical activity is equally important, not only for weight management but also for reducing stress levels, which can impact ageing,” explained Dr Simpatwar.

Speaking of stress, she said that adopting effective stress management techniques is crucial for overall well-being and can help in reversing the aging effects associated with pregnancy.

Interestingly, the study also noted that not everyone experiences the same level of biological age reversal. Factors like pre-pregnancy weight play a role, and women with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) before pregnancy experienced less biological age reversal compared to those in the “normal” weight range.

This highlights the importance of a personalised approach to health and recovery post-pregnancy, said Dr Simpatwar.

These findings offer intriguing possibilities for future research on ageing. Pregnancy is a unique journey for each individual, with its own set of challenges, including its effects on ageing. But the remarkable ability of the body to recover and even rejuvenate after giving birth is something to be optimistic about.

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