Maternal age at birth of last child has been associated with maternal longevity. The aim of this study was to determine whether older women with a history of late maternal age at last childbirth had a longer leukocyte telomere length than those with maternal age at last childbirth of 29 years or less.
A nested case control study was conducted using data from the Long Life Family Study. Three hundred eighty-seven women who gave birth to at least one child and lived to the top fifth percentile of their birth cohort, or died before the top fifth percentile of their birth cohort died, but were at least 70 years old, were studied. Logistic regression models using generalized estimating equations were used to determine the association between tertiles of telomere length and maternal age at last childbirth, adjusting for covariates.
Age at birth of the last child was significantly associated with leukocyte telomere length. Compared with women who gave birth to their last child before the age of 29, women who were past the age of 33 when they had their last child were two to three times more likely to have leukocyte telomere length in the second and third tertiles than in the first tertile.
These findings show an association between longer leukocyte telomere length and a later maternal age at birth of last child, suggesting that extended maternal age at last childbirth may be a marker for longevity.