Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s For Women with Kids
Motherhood may affect a woman’s Alzheimer’s risk in unexpected ways, according to a report by researchers recently.
Their findings suggest that women who had three or more children were less likely to develop dementia than women who had only one child. And women who had miscarriages were more likely to develop dementia as well. The researchers also found links between dementia risk and a woman’s age at the onset of puberty or menopause.
The findings, presented at the annual Alzheimer’s Association conference in Chicago, might suggest that hormones affect a woman’s risk of developing the disease, said Heather Snyder, senior director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association.
“It could be hormones,” said Snyder. Or it could have something to do with the immune system, which changes during pregnancy, or even the way a woman eats when she is pregnant. “Or you can think about women with three children. They are multitasking a lot,” Snyder said. That could build up what are called brain reserves — extra reservoirs of brain function that have been shown to delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
It’s clear more research is needed. Recently, a team in South Korea found that women who had five or more children had a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. Much of the research suggests there is a connection between motherhood and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. You can read more about the research on the NBC News Health News Blog.
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