Aging is something that most fight against. Birth events can have an effect on aging according to a study in Pediatrics from November 2014. The authors looked at 829 mid life New Zealanders and analyzed their white blood cell DNA for cellular aging. This is done by looking at telomeres, tails at the end of a DNA strand that erode as we age. The longer the telomere is, the less old we are from a DNA perspective regardless of chronological age. The shorter the telomere the older we are.

What they found was that telomere length was directly associated with perinatal complications. In other words, a rough pregnancy, delivery or post delivery scenario portended worse DNA aging. The reality of these findings is that the DNA programming that is occurring during the pregnancy/birth process is related to later health.

Native Americans had it right! Protect the mother from stress or pain and help delivery be natural. Maternal health has long been known to affect the outcome of her offspring, however, this data is novel and a little scary. The myriad of possible issues that arise if a mother takes drugs, alcohol, is stressed, eats poorly, etc.. will directly lead to long term epigenetic changes to the child's DNA and accelerate aging.

Spread the news and help mothers and fathers understand that taking care of all mothers is important. Support all aspects of health from nutrition to stress to drugs, etc..

Dr. M