An article appeared on the ScienceDaily.com website making an astounding claim: having more children contributes to a woman’s longevity.
Children and Longevity
This was the conclusion a team of researchers led by health sciences professor Pablo Nepomnaschy and postdoctoral researcher Cindy Barha of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
This study tracked the lives and health of 75 Guatemalan women in two neighboring rural villages. It revealed that the more children women give birth to, the longer and healthier they live. The researchers found women who give birth to more children exhibited longer telomeres. “Telomeres are the protective tips at the end of each DNA strand and are indicative of cellular aging. Longer telomeres are integral to cell replication and associated with longevity.”
According to Dr. Nepomnaschy, his research “contradicts life history theory which predicts that producing a higher number of offspring accelerates the pace of biological aging.” One factor which may explain this is that during pregnancy the body produces high levels of estrogen. This hormone, said Dr. Nepomnaschy, “functions as a potent antioxidant that protects cells against telomere shortening.”
Not only does this research contradict “life history theory.” It contradicts the prevailing belief among women that having children is a form of slavery which drains them of their health and happiness. To be free of such burdens, the idea goes, allows a woman to spread her wings and reach her full potential. Science is proving that the very opposite is true.
But should it surprise us that “doing what’s natural” (i.e., bearing and raising children) should contribute to a woman’s health? Common sense would suggest that “doing what’s unnatural” (i.e., delaying or omitting having children in order to pursue a stressful career) is the more dangerous option.
It’s true that raising children involves dedicated service to one’s family. At times it may seem like slavery. But isn’t service to others what we were created for? Aren’t those who serve the happiest people on earth? And who better to serve than our own children, those for whom God has placed a special love in our heart?
Actually, the gospel of Jesus Christ, makes the same general claim. Jesus told us that whoever tries to save their life (through selfish pursuits of self-preservation and self-actualization) will lose it. But whoever loses their life (by serving Christ and others) will find it (Mark 8:35). Indeed, Jesus told us that there is far more joy in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:35).
Never be afraid of losing yourself in service to others. God protects those who serve, especially moms.
Dear Father in heaven, in this day when children are viewed as unnecessary burdens and parenting is considered slavery, please change our hearts and attitudes. Please breathe the breath of life into our hearts again. Restore our sanity, our love, and our desire for what pleases You. Please transform our society and make it family-friendly once again. Amen.
Information from: Cindy K. Barha, Courtney W. Hanna, Katrina G. Salvante, Samantha L. Wilson, Wendy P. Robinson, Rachel M. Altman, Pablo A. Nepomnaschy. Number of Children and Telomere Length in Women: A Prospective, Longitudinal Evaluation. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (1): e0146424 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146424