While new moms may blame forgetfulness on “mommy brain,” new research from a team at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that working mothers had a slower rate of memory decline compared to non-working mothers.
The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Tuesday, and looked at over 6,000 American women born between the years 1935 through 1956.
The researchers asked the women to complete standardized memory tests every two years between the ages of around 55 to 80. The found the average memory performance for married women with children who never worked between the ages of 60 and 70 years old declined 61% faster compared to married mothers who participated in the paid labor force.
Meanwhile, the average memory performance for women who experienced a prolonged period of single motherhood without working declined 83 percent faster between the ages of 60 and 70 years old, compared to married mothers who participated in the workforce, researchers found.
“We have to be crystal clear here. This is not about which one is harder. This is about possible different engagement in the brain, different parts of the brain that may exist when women leave the home and interact either with adults or work just in a different environment outside the home,” Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent explained on Good Morning America.
“[W]e have to caution: association does not prove cause and effect…We’re just saying that not only can you lead by example, show children that women can work, can financially contribute, but it might be good for the brain.”