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How can we determine whether pregnancy is beneficial or detrimental to the mother's health

How can we determine whether pregnancy is beneficial or detrimental to the mother's health

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By Jamila on Nov 12, 2020

[1] Michaeli, Tal Falick, Yehudit Bergman, and Yuval Gielchinsky. "Rejuvenating effect of pregnancy on the mother." Fertility and Sterility 103.5 (2015): 1125-1128.

[2] Ziomkiewicz, Anna, et al. "Evidence for the cost of reproduction in humans: high lifetime reproductive effort is associated with greater oxidative stress in post-menopausal women." PloS one 11.1 (2016): e0145753.

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by Juran K. on Nov 13, 2020


by Steven Agee on Nov 14, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 18 hours ago
Steven Agee Agreed! We probably need answers to all your above-mentioned questions to make an informed statement regarding the effect of pregnancy on a female's health.
1. We need to compare lifespan between parous and non-parous women.
2. We need to compare lifespans across women with different numbers of offspring.
3. We need to compare parous women to those that were pregnant but did not give birth.
4. And what about mothers who have lost their children? Psychology may have a grave impact on the physiology and, hence, the lifespan of a person.

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Povilas S 13 days ago
That's a good question I never even came up with myself, so thanks for raising it for me!:) I'm curious - aren't there simply statistical studies comparing life spans of different women and different factors that may have influenced them - genetics, environmental, lifestyle, and among those would be pregnancies. It should be relatively simple to rule out statistically how big of influence pregnancies have on this and whether it correlates positively or negatively with chronological age. I know the question is about woman's health in general, but focusing on just the length of life could make it simpler for the start.
Jamila 13 days ago
Povilas S Yes, that's very true. There have been some studies, but they have had conflicting results.
In one study, parity increased Amish ladies' lifespans (only until 14 children). [1] In another study, researchers found no significance between parity and maternal longevity. However, when they divided the women into ethnic groups. It was found that white women with 2, 3, or 4 children were more likely to live longer compared to white women with one child - there were no differences reported for black women. [2] The results aren't clear; it seems that other factors are affecting them. The results could vary due to factors, such as the mother's age, how many children she has had, her risk of diseases, genetics, ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, etc. Due to this, we could try to use multiple methods and then it would hopefully give us the bigger picture. Perhaps we could use lifespan studies with specific factors, epigenetic age, or use some other ways.

1. McArdle, Patrick F., et al. "Does having children extend life span? A genealogical study of parity and longevity in the Amish." The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 61.2 (2006): 190-195.
2. Shadyab, Aladdin H., et al. "Maternal age at childbirth and parity as predictors of longevity among women in the United States: The women's health initiative." American journal of public health 107.1 (2017): 113-119.

Povilas S 12 days ago
Jamila Ahmed Thanks:) Maybe you know about this aspect also - what about women that didn't have any children compared to those who had at least one? That seems to me as the most important starting point for comparision.
Jamila 9 days ago
Povilas S A comparison between no children and one child would help. In a meta-analysis by Zeng, they found a J-shaped association between parity and mortality risk in the parents. In their study, they included 0 to 13 children. The researchers found that 3-4 births reduced the risk of mortality. Having no children and having more than six children had the same impact on parental mortality risk – it didn't reduce the mortality risk.

The study link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4725925/