As if adulting weren’t hard enough, parenting takes the challenge to a whole new level. You’re responsible for the life and development of a tiny person, that you created. Your task is to feed, clothe and support them. Guiding them through life. Teaching them to treat others with respect and manage their own emotions. Although it’s a challenge all on its own, a new study conducted by researchers seems to imply that parents of sons may age more rapidly than parents of daughters.
Researchers from Columbia University in New York published a study in collaboration with Charles University in Prague. The main objective of this study was to look at, and hopefully support, previous studies in which researchers believe that brains age more rapidly in parents of sons. Prior research has suggested a correlation between the number of sons a mom had, and long-term health outcomes such as dementia.
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How the Tests were Conducted
The study examines data over the course of 18 years, with tests occurring every 2 years. Over 13,000 parents, age 50 or older, participated in the study. Researchers examined the numbers and found that among participants, over %82 had at least one son. Over 3,000 parents had 2 or more sons.
Researchers examined both mothers and fathers but found that over %61 participants were females. The study’s results show that a more rapid decline occurred in cases in which participants had 2 or more sons. Parents were asked to partake in a number of cognition tests including solving math problems and the ability to count backward. Researchers also tested participants’ ability to concentrate and to recall a list of words. Researchers read a list of words and asked parents to recall those words.
Katrin Wolfova was one of 9 contributing authors. She notes, “Parents of at least one son had a faster rate of cognitive decline in comparison to parents without any son. Our results also suggest that cognitive decline was faster among parents of multiple sons, compared to parents with only daughters. Thus, the results support the theory that having sons might have a long-term negative effect on parental cognition.” She also explained the results suggest these findings were social rather than biological. Researchers came to this conclusion by weighing other factors such as social status and other health conditions that are hereditary.
The start of the research shows no difference in whether parents had sons or daughters. However, as children got older, so did their parents’ brains. At this point, the data starts to show a difference in parents of sons vs. daughters. Many factors could include more ER visits with sons because boys tend to be more active and rambunctious.
However, Wolfova notes, “Daughters provide more social and emotional support than sons and often become informal caregivers.” This more than likely plays a role in how parents, and their brains, are nurtured by daughters vs. sons.
Researchers have looked at several studies in relation to dementia and other cognitive disorders because they are becoming more prevalent in society. The most prevalent suggestion for staving off these disorders is sleep! Our brains have a better chance of staving off dementia and other cognitive disorders if it, and you, are well rested. Uncoincidentally, sleep is recommended to provide many benefits in maintaining overall health. General tips to help prevent or stave off dementia include eating well, minimizing the use of alcohol, doing brain exercises like puzzles, learning something new, and reading books that challenge your brain.
In conclusion, studies have found a correlation between moms of sons and higher rates of susceptibility to cognitive disorders. That likelihood increases as the number of sons increases. However, there are some things moms can do, including taking care of their bodies and brain, to help minimize these negative effects. Most importantly, rest well and take some breaths, life as a parent can be really difficult. Maintaining your mental health might help you feel more balanced and better prepared to face these challenges.
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- “Staving off dementia when you have mild cognitive impairment. Harvard Health. March 30, 2021
- “Parents of boys age at a faster rate, claims new study.” Honey9. Naomi White. October, 2022.
- “Sons and parental cognition in mid-life and older adulthood.” PubMed. Katrin Wolfova, et al. October 12, 2022.
- “How to Prevent Dementia: Is It Possible?” Healthline. June 8, 2020.