Those of you waiting to have kids later in life, relax: There’s some new scientific information you can throw back in the faces of anyone who shames you for waiting. Pregnancy after the age of 35 can enhance your memory, according to a recent study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. The researchers directed multiple questions towards 830 menopausal women about a range of events in their lives that involved reproduction and their sexual health, like when they got their first period, when they went on hormonal birth control and for how long, and when they got pregnant while also testing their verbal memory, cognition, and functioning skills.

If you’re having a child at a later stage, there’s a chance you’ve already encountered plenty of people questioning about when you’ll start a family and what’s taken you so long. When you’re getting a pregnancy test kit with your wrinkle cream, you’ll probably get some stares, so now you can fire back with this amazing discovery.

While having kids while still young might seem perfect given that you have more energy then, according to the study, women who gave birth between the ages of 19 and 24 usually had worse health and cognitive functioning in their mid-life.

On the other hand, women who had their first baby when they were 24 or older had a drastically better executive function, which includes working memory, attention control, problem-solving and reasoning. The research concluded that women whose last pregnancy was after the age of 35 had better verbal memory and positive association of using hormonal contraceptives with global cognition and verbal memory was noticed.

This is desirable news for mums who have delayed having kids until they set their careers or find proper partners. Fertility issues delay the journey to motherhood for other women.

The research was correlative and thus could not explain any purpose for the link between age of last (or first) birth and middle-aged cognitive ability. However, the researchers recorded that the hormonal changes post pregnancy are known to cause striking modifications to brain function.

The significant rise in hormone levels during pregnancy can positively affect your brain’s functioning, and if you’re pregnant later in life, the changes to your brain will last longer. “While it is not enough to propose that women wait until after 35 years of age to close their family growth, our finding of a positive influence of later age at last pregnancy on late-life cognition is original and substantial,” stated the lead author of the study, Dr Roksana Karim. The primary hormones at play are oestrogen and progesterone.

In animal studies, oestrogen has a positive impact on brain chemistry, structure and function; progesterone is associated with growth and maturation of brain tissue. “It has been proposed that functional brain alterations induced by reproductive experiences have lifelong effects, particularly in terms of development of memory and learning, therefore it is biologically probable that a late pregnancy might offer protection against cognitive deterioration in later life.”, the researchers wrote.r Karim also mentioned: ‘More research is warranted to evaluate the underlying mechanism of this phenomenon and also to understand the role of age at first pregnancy.

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