If you've been thinking about having a large family, this new study might have you giving that a second thought, especially if you've got a family history of Alzheimer's disease. There have been several health conditions that have been linked to having children or going through pregnancy -- and this latest shows that having a larger family could be linked to struggles later in life.
According to a new study, mothers who give birth to five or more children could be at a higher risk of developing the disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association, the disease, " causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks."
The research results, published in the journal Neurology, point to a potential connection with the levels of estrogen in the body -- and estrogen is created more during pregnancy. "Estrogen levels double by the eighth week of pregnancy before climbing to up to 40 times the normal peak level," Dr. Ki Woong Kim, the study's author, said.
The study shows that women who have given birth five or more times don't just have a small link of percentage. The results showed that women were linked with a 70 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those who had fewer kids. The study also showed that for women who had a miscarriage, they were half as likely to develop Alzheimer's than those women who didn't lose a baby.
The study had participants from both Greece and Korea who took part in a memory test to determine whether they had a cognitive impairment that could be a precursor to developing Alzheimer's disease. It's just a small sample but if research continues in this and shows the same or similar findings, the discovery could lead to "the development of hormone-based preventative strategies for Alzheimer's disease based on the hormonal changes in the first trimester of pregnancy," Kim concluded.
The results, again, are a small sample and really shouldn't sway your family planning too much. But if there's a large history of the disease impacting your family, it might not be a bad thing to discuss the findings with your doctor.