London - It may surprise new mothers fighting the effects of "baby brain" and sleepless nights.
But having children may make women mentally sharper in later life, a study suggests.
They have "younger" brains than women who have never had children, based on the MRI scans of more than 12 000 patients.
Even in middle age, their brains are up to six months younger, and having more children, up to five, appears to be better for grey matter. Experts believe that mothers may benefit from oestrogen, the hormone which is produced in pregnancy, or have a boost to their immune system from carrying a child.