Maternal non-Mendelian inheritance of a reduced lifespan? a hypothesis

Martin Wilding, Gianfranco Coppola, Francesco De Icco, Laura Arenare, Loredana Di Matteo, Brian Dale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: A negative correlation exists between advanced maternal age and reproduction. Current data suggest that this correlation is due to a decline in oocyte quality with respect to female age. Since a new individual is derived from the fusion of a single sperm and egg, we tested whether the quality of this material could influence the long-term physiological health of offspring, by examining whether a link between parental age and lifespan of offspring exists. Methods: We requested a search from the Swedish demographic database POPUM 3 maintained by the University of Umeå, Sweden between years 1700 and 1900. Parameters requested included mothers' and fathers' age at gestation, the lifespan of the children, cause of death of children and the region of birth. Results: Complete data was obtained for 30,512 children born to 12,725 mothers and fathers. Kaplan-Meier estimators demonstrated a strong relationship between mother's age at gestation and the longevity of offspring. Extrinsic factors such as century of birth also had an effect on the data. The forward stepwise procedure on Cox's model of proportional hazards suggested that most significant intrinsic factors were mother's lifespan and mother's age at gestation. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence the lifespan of children. Among intrinsic factors, mother's lifespan and age at gestation had a significant influence on the data. The influence of intrinsic factors remained significant despite a strong extrinsic influence. We suggest that the influence of the mother on the lifespan of offspring is due to extra-genomic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-643
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Inheritance
  • Maternal age
  • Reproductive physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal non-Mendelian inheritance of a reduced lifespan? a hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this