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“They’re going to lead me to an early death!”

“They’re giving me gray hairs!”

Raise your hand if you’ve either thought or said these sentences out loud when it comes to raising kids. It’s a running “joke” among moms that our kids are going to kill us one of these days because of the stress they put us through, because parenting is NOT easy!

 

Rewarding? Yes.

Would we trade it for the world? No way!

Parenting can be a physical and emotional roller coaster for sure, but did you know that some research is showing that giving birth and raising children may actually age our cells prematurely? Yay.

Researchers analyzed information from 1,556 U.S. women ages 20 to 44 who took part in a national survey from 1999 to 2002. The study involved these women giving blood samples.

Researchers were interested in examining the women’s genetic material inside their cells, namely telomeres. These are “caps” on the end of chromosomes that prevent chromosomes from damage.

Telomeres naturally shorten as people age, but the structures don’t shorten at the same rate in every person. The longer a person’s telomeres are, the more times their cells could hypothetically still divide, research has shown. Thus, telomeres are considered a marker of biological age — that is, the age of a person’s cells, rather than the individual’s chronological age.”

The study showed that women who had given birth had telomeres that were on average, 4% shorter than women who had never given birth. The results suggest that a “history of live birth may be associated with shorter telomeres,” the researchers wrote in their abstract, which was presented this week at the meeting of the American Public HealthAssociation in Denver. [9 Uncommon Conditions That Pregnancy May Bring]

Further research needs to be done to prove why telomeres in mother’s seem to be shorter, but the standing hypothesis for now is that having children increases stress levels, and high stress in humans is linked to shorter telomeres.

So there you have it. We’re doomed! Or, you can take the study with a giant grain of salt… because we all know many many mothers who lived well into their 80’s and 90’s, and even past 100! In my opinion, it’s all about perception. We can choose to dwell on being stressed all the time and view motherhood as a never ending chore, or we can focus on the amazing blessing that our children are, and choose happiness. I for one choose the latter! Motherhood is one of the greatest opportunities I will ever take part in, and I am happy to give up the length of my telomeres for it.

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It’s a parents worst nightmare, and unfortunately the cause of death for too many infants.  We probably have all worried about our babies while they were sleeping at one time or another, even checking their breathing to make sure they’re ok.  The culprit of those fears is SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  A mysterious condition that takes little ones while they sleep.

 

 

Dr. Daniel Rubens of Seattle Children’s Hospital has been researching SIDS for 11 years, and believes he’s very close to solving the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and is currently developing ways to prevent it.

Typically when a baby can’t breathe while sleeping, they have a natural reflex that causes them to move to allow breathing again. His theory is that babies who die of SIDS have inner-ear dysfunction which halts this reflex.  They don’t reposition themselves to get more air, and thus, stop breathing.

“These babies have inner-ear damage, but they can’t tell you,” Rubens told The Seattle Times. “They are too young to sit up. The baby has a problem getting air.

One study done in Rhode Island focused on 31 babies who died of SIDS.  They all scored poorly on a hearing test in their right ear. Babies whose hearing checked out fine survived. Rubens has also been testing on mice and found mice who had ear problems were at higher risk for a SIDS-like reaction as well.

More research needs to be done, but Rubens is hopeful that more thorough testing done on babies within the first 48 hours of life will lead to better preventative care for at risk infants.