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REJUVENATING PREGNANCY: what happens to «biological» age after childbirth

REJUVENATING PREGNANCY: what happens to «biological» age after childbirth
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Carrying a baby affects a woman’s genetics. The international scientific journal Nature reports on the new research in this area. It turns out that pregnancy forms DNA patterns that resemble those observed in older people. However, childbirth turns this process toward rejuvenation.




Constant pain is an indication of an older person who has serious health problems. The irony of nature is that pregnancy is something similar to old age in this regard. However, the similarities between aging and carrying a baby are not just formal.

Pregnancy actually changes the body’s «chemistry» in a similar way to aging — some DNA chemical markers are distributed in exactly the same way. However, new research shows that this aging of the pregnant body is temporary. Just a few months after childbirth, very different patterns begin to work, not only stopping the aging process but also reversing it.

Scientists at Yale University in New Haven (Connecticut) first discovered this rejuvenation effect after childbirth during experiments in laboratory mice and later in humans. One of the leading experts of the project, Kieran O’Donnell, described the results as unexpected because the damage of childbirth for the female body for centuries for humankind was obvious.

But for childbirth to lead to a decrease in biological age — none of the researchers expected this!




So, how did the scientists at Yale figure it out? They analyzed chemical tags from so-called «methyl groups» in the bodies of pregnant women. The unique feature of our DNA is that through the process of methylation it is able to change without changing — the transformation in the activity of genes occurs without modifying the genetic code.

It is this amazing property of DNA that researchers use when they want to determine the biological age of a person. Actually, this is how the aging process works — something in you changes over time, but psychobiologically it is still the same you.

The paradox is that life is not only a great gift, but also a constant, mostly unrecognized stress. Over time, the effects of the wide variety of micro stresses our bodies experience in the course of life tend to accumulate. Methylation patterns perfectly «capture» these trends and allow scientists to estimate biological age.

Unfortunately, according to your passport, you may be 30 years old, but according to the real state of your body, you are 45 years old. But luckily, the opposite also happens — you are 60 years old, but your organism is like that of a 45-year-old person.


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Research suggests that biological age is a better indicator of current health problems than chronological age. You can tell whether you have health problems: cardiovascular system conditions, the threat of dementia, and other diseases.

Biomedical scientists from Harvard Medical School in Boston (Massachusetts) found that the stopping in mice stress state, in particular, such as pregnancy, turns the biological age in a reversal. Apparently, for the same reason, a woman who gives birth also starts to get younger.

If we move away from childbirth, we can generally confirm this trend — by reducing the impact of stress, you make your body younger and healthier. However, while studying the history of long-lived patients, medics have been guessing about this «recipe for eternal youth» for a long time.




However, a new study has shown that not all women recover from pregnancy to the same extent. O’Donnell and colleagues found that the most significant factor inhibiting recovery is being overweight. If a woman was on the verge of obesity before pregnancy, the additional biological age in the three months after delivery decreases much worse than in people whose body weight is classified as normal.

In addition, breastfeeding does not help with rejuvenation either. Those who used formula milk «got younger» faster. However, the authors of the experiments encourage the use of the term «rejuvenation» with caution, as the scientists did not measure the biological age of the participants before pregnancy.

They plan to attract these data to the study as well in the future. Nevertheless, experts already have facts, according to which the biological age of some participants in the experiment after childbirth was several years younger than in early pregnancy.




That is a kind of rejuvenating effect; if not pregnancy, then childbirth may still exist. In addition, biologists warn against conclusions that interpret pregnancy as a certain state of «accelerated aging». The fact is that methylation processes certainly change during pregnancy.

However, it is likely that this may not be a sign of aging but of a specific adaptation of the maternal body to support the growing fetus.

O’Donnell believes that some new, less intimidating terms should emerge for this area of research. In fact, pregnancy is not a biological problem for humans because evolution has provided mechanisms to roll back biological age.

Therefore, you can safely give birth and «rejuvenate», of course, avoiding stress and monitoring your health.


Original research: Pregnancy advances your ‘biological’ age — but giving birth turns it back


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