Monday, July 02, 2007

The children of young mothers live longer

That is the conclusion of research done by Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D., and Dr. Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D., both of the University of Chicago. Dr. Leonid Gavrilov summarizes the conclusion at his blog as follows: "We recently found that it helps a lot to be born to a particularly young mother (before age 25 years)". That seems intuitively right as women (and men) are in prime health before age 25, and therefore the female body would be able to provide the best environment for a growing baby.

The title of their paper begins with the phrase "Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity." Clear positive identification of such predictors of course would be of earth-shattering value. The Gavrilovs do not claim to have done this, of course, but rather in their paper indicate possible predictors identified through novel use of information technology to analyze demographic data. They looked at "the detailed family data for 991 alleged centenarians born between 1875 and 1899."

If the study's conclusion that being born to a young mother does indeed lead to exceptional longevity is borne out by further research, it would certainly lead to a re-thinking of child-bearing decisions by couples. This would have significant effects on the global demographic profile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's actually not the health of the mother (though that might factor into infant mortality) as the quality of her DNA.

DNA--even in sperm and eggs--degrades over a person's lifetime. Thus, later children are born with more genetic errors.