• Wed, Mar 27 2013

If You Have Your Baby Before Your 25th Birthday, They’ll Live Forever — Or At Least To Be 100

100 years oldA surprisingly definitive new study is out and it might make you think twice about waiting until your mid-30s to have that first baby. Dr Leonid Gavrilov, co-author of the study and Principal Investigator of the NIH research project at NORC at the University of Chicago, says that if you want your child to live to be 100, you’re going to want to have them before you turn 25. Given how late most people are waiting to have kids these days, looks like we might not have many people hitting triple-digits in future generations.

Gavrilov’s study looked at the effect of maternal age on longevity and found a pretty alarming trend. He explains,

“Our study found that persons born to young mothers (aged less than 25 years) had significantly higher chances of living to 100, compared to their siblings born to older mothers. Even at age 75 years it still matters what was the mother’s age when a person was born,” as people born to mothers under the age of 25 have nearly an 80% higher likelihood to live to 100.

The study looked at children born in the same family, to reduce the opportunity for genetic or environmental factors to skew the results. And while it was a relatively low sample size and demands further investigation, the results are still shocking as they stand.

Personally, my mother had me when she was 25. I had my daughter at the age of 22. I guess as far as that goes, the two of us are doing pretty good? My husband on the other hand. Well… he was a “late miracle” according to his mother. Looks like I’ll be 100+ all by myself.

There’s something inherently morbid about this information, even though the researchers are obviously trying to educate us. It doesn’t change the fact that every person reading the results is not thinking, “Welp, thanks Mom. I either will or will not live to 100.” Apparently, I just really don’t like the idea of knowing when someone will die.

The research also adds to a growing divide in the discussion over when people choose to start families. On one hand, it seems responsible to wait until you’re financially stable and established in your career. On another, growing evidence shows that waiting might lead to a larger change of health complications for your children. I’m not sure if anyone really takes these meta ideas into consideration when planning their own family, but they’re definitely interesting concepts to keep in mind.

(Photo: GVictoria/Shutterstock)

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  • Jenny May

    Cue zillions of people chiming in about how their great-great uncle lived to be 102 and their great-great-great grandma had him when she was 36 because personal anecdotes obviously make scientific studies meaningless.

    • Makabit

      They don’t make studies meaningless, but they do remind us that studies show broad trends, not some sort of absolute. Some people are born to older parents and live long lives, some people walk in front of crosstown buses regardless of what age their parents were when they were born.

      Shrug. It’s interesting scientifically, but in terms of social behavior, probably more or less unimportant.

  • Kelly

    As if we all have control over something like this??

  • AS

    There is a lot more to making it to 100 than how old your parents were and who would want to live to 100 anyway?

  • waffre

    Well, I guess I’m gonna die young and so are any of my future children. If only this study had come out 3 years ago I could’ve got on track to try for a kid before I hit 25!
    On a more serious note, it would have been interesting to know what the likelihood of longevity was for people born to mothers who were just over or just under 25, and if the odds continued to decrease as maternal age increased.

  • romylove

    This was totally skewed. You write this as if they are saying there’s an 80% chance you’ll live to 100. It’s “an 80% higher likelihood to live to 100.”

    This means that if someone born to a mother over 25 has a 10% chance (just a number for reference) of living to 100, someone born to a mother under 25 has an 18% chance of living to 100. While that has nearly doubled, I wouldn’t find myself placing bets about which of my friends will outlive the others.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    Somehow, I don’t think this is going to comfort my parents if I get knocked up in the next three years…

    • AS

      This made me lol.

  • chickadee

    The source you’ve linked to is kind of strange…it seems almost to be an ad for financial planning there at the end, and reads in a weirdly disjointed fashion when it starts talking about pensions. Is there ant primary source for this study? Bonus fact: according to the link below, the month in which you were born apparently affects your chances of making it to 100 as well.
    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jar/2011/104616/

  • Eileen

    As much as it may make sense, I gotta wonder how much this study is worth today since the sample group was probably born in the ’30s or earlier.

  • Leonid Gavrilov

    Here is the original peer-reviewed study:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354762/

  • BlueBelle

    I have zero interest in living until I’m 100 and I wouldn’t want to put that sentence on anyone else. It’s okay to die. What is with this American obsession with evading death?

  • zeisel

    My great aunt lived to 104 and she was the youngest of eight kids. I think her mom had her when she was in her mid- thirties if not late thirties. They did the old catholic way of birth control and I don’t think they really planned on having her- according to my grandmother. The interesting thing is that she was super healthy and was on a bowling team until she was 98 and lived on her own up to the last two years. Her hearing was completely shot though- nothing would work for her to hear. Other then that.. she was really robust.

    On another note, my husband’s sister is 46 and already has had 3 bouts of cancer- first was colon cancer at 35, second was ovarian cancer around 40 and at 45/46 she had a type of mole that was cancerous and removed. My husband’s mom had her when she was 24.

    There seems to be way too many variables for theses studies to even be taken with a grain of salt, but that’s just my take on it.

  • sarahinez

    Well, if this means that relatively healthy old people are going to die before they become increasingly enfeebled and require expensive interventions, we could view this as a positive.

  • CW

    My grandma lived to be 99 and she was the youngest of 6 kids. I’d have to check my family tree to be sure but I really don’t think my great-grandma was younger than 25 when my grandma was born.

  • AlfishKK

    Well, too late for that one. I’m 25 and already getting too old for stuff.

  • al

    Most women are not as fortunate as this author and don’t get married in their early 20′s. It’s not a “choice” for most women to have children later in life, it’s due to circumstances often out of their control. We don’t need any more articles making us feel like terrible, horrible women for not having children in our 20′s, in an already baby-obsessed culture