Whether you’ve jumped headfirst into your career or just haven’t found the right partner yet or anything in between, it’s OK to put off becoming a parent. Your brain just might be better for it!
In fact, research now says that giving birth after the age of 35 could give you a major brainpower boost. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society explains why. (Want even more good news? Science says older moms are better parents, too.)
To evaluate how pregnancy age can affect women’s cognitive strength, researchers recruited 830 post-menopausal women and tracked their verbal memory, executive functioning skills, and global cognition. Then, they compared those stats against variables such as the age of the woman’s first period and age and number of pregnancies, among others.
The final results? Participants whose last pregnancy was after age 35 showed higher verbal memory scores, the researchers reported. What’s more, a longer reproductive period and oral contraceptive use were also positively linked to maternal brainpower. Women who gave birth to their first child between the ages of 15 and 24, on the other hand, tended to experience a decline in cognitive functions once they reached their 40s.
Researchers believe that the huge boost in hormones caused by pregnancy can enhance your cranial functions. And if you’re pregnant later in life, the changes to your brain will last longer, too. All of this is good news for older moms everywhere, especially because kids get their intelligence from their mom, to boot.
“While it is not enough to suggest that women wait until after 35 years of age to close their family growth, our finding of a positive effect of later age at last pregnancy on late-life cognition is novel and substantial,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Roksana Karim.
And don’t count dads out quite yet! Science says older dads have smarter sons—and you’ll never guess why.