File this under the least surprising thing you’ve read all week: according to new research, having more kids ages mothers faster as moms everywhere respond, “Uh, duh.”

In a recent study conducted at Northwestern University researchers found that for every child a mom has, her cells can age anywhere from 0.5 to 2 years. So based on how many kids you have in your brood, you can do the math on how much older you actually are. (Or skip the math and just enjoy that glass of wine instead.)

The study, which followed hundreds of moms in the Philippines, looked at two important markers of cellular aging: telomeres and epigenetic age. “Telomere length and epigenetic age are cellular markers that independently predict mortality, and both appeared ‘older’ in women who had more pregnancies in their reproductive histories,” said Calen Ryan, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in biological anthropology at Northwestern. “Even after accounting for other factors that affect cellular aging, the number of pregnancies still came out on top.”

Whatever the scientific explanation, if you’re already a mom of two or more it’s not very hard to figure out why having multiple kids ages you at a faster rate. The sleep deprivation alone is enough to explain away cellular aging, not to mention the amount of exertion and time travel that is required to juggle two different soccer team schedules, Girl Scouts and dance recitals. And all those  mind-numbing hours lost to folding laundry and sorting all those socks.

There is a temporary fountain of youth for moms, however. The study also surprisingly found that during pregnancy, a woman’s cells appear to be younger than they actually are. In other words, you might lose years when the kids are born, but for that brief period of pregnancy glow, you’ll actually seem younger.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Manette Gonzales via Flickr


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