The maternal brain: Region-specific patterns of brain aging are traceable decades after childbirth.
de Lange A-MG., Barth C., Kaufmann T., Anatürk M., Suri S., Ebmeier KP., Westlye LT.
Pregnancy involves maternal brain adaptations, but little is known about how parity influences women's brain aging trajectories later in life. In this study, we replicated previous findings showing less apparent brain aging in women with a history of childbirths, and identified regional brain aging patterns linked to parity in 19,787 middle- and older-aged women. Using novel applications of brain-age prediction methods, we found that a higher number of previous childbirths were linked to less apparent brain aging in striatal and limbic regions. The strongest effect was found in the accumbens-a key region in the mesolimbic reward system, which plays an important role in maternal behavior. While only prospective longitudinal studies would be conclusive, our findings indicate that subcortical brain modulations during pregnancy and postpartum may be traceable decades after childbirth.