The age you have your first child could be written in your genes: Study's surprise findings

Picture: Getty Images
Picture: Getty Images 

Think the age you had your first child happened at random as a consequence of carefully thought out life decisions? Turns out there could be more to it, with a new study finding it could be written in your DNA.?

The joint study, led by both The University of Oxford and Australian based?researchers, found that our genetic make up influences not just the age we lose our virginity, but when we have our first child.?

Published in the journal nature human behaviour, the study?found how much of an influence these genes play has also been increasing. While in 1940, the genes held a 9 per cent influence over a woman's age at the time of her?first birth, by 1965 this had increased to 22 per cent.?

Assessing data from the two UK longitudinal?studies to look at the age those surveyed first had sex and when women had their first child, they then looked at genetic data and identified 371 segments of DNA could be linked to the age these events happened.?

While some of these genes were linked to reproductive function, others were linked to our behaviour.?Taking into account other factors, such as socioeconomics and disadvantage in childhood, they?found those whose parents had higher levels of education had their first sexual experiences and children later in life.?

A similar, previous study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge in 2016 and published in the same journal, identified only 38 genetic variants linked to the age a person first has sex.?

Lead author of this study, Professor Melinda?Mills, said their research?was significant due to the large number of additional genetic markers found to influence these life events.?

"Age at first sexual intercourse and age at first birth have implications for health and evolutionary fitness," she told the Daily Mail.? "We anticipate that our results will address important interventions in infertility, teenage sexual and mental health."

Those found to have a genetic association to losing their virginity later were less likely to have their first sexual experience before the age of 19, while those with a genetic association to a later age at first birth tended to have their babies after the age of 27.?


In Australia, the average age a person loses their (heterosexual) virginity is between 16-18 years, with some studies suggesting the age was closer to 18 LGTBQI?teens.?The average age women welcome their first child is 29.4 years.?

Researchers also looked at the any correlations between a mother's health and the age she had her first child.?In good news for those who welcomed their first child later in life, older first time mums both lived longer and were at less risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.?

It's not the first study to suggest this. A recent article published in the Menopause journal found that women having their first child later in life showed markers for living longer.?

They found 'older mothers' had more DNA protein complexes that protect the end of chromosomes, meaning they would likely both live longer and have better long term health into old age.?