Children help you live longer, says study

A parent holding a child's hand

Despite the sleepless nights and feeling like you never have time to yourself, you'll be pleased to know that rather than shortening your lifespan, being a parent means you're likely to live longer.

The researchers compared life expectancy with marital status and parenthood, to see whether having a child influenced how long a person lived.

Modig and her colleagues used national Swedish health data to track all men and women born between 1911 and 1925 in that country. Women with children could expect to live for nearly 25 years past the age of 60 - 18 months longer than those without, she reported in the...

Researchers say sons and daughters help to keep their parents' minds active and provide additional care in old age.

The research team - including Dr. Karin Modig of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden - found that people who had children may live up to 2 years longer than those who are childless.

The risk of death rose with increasing age, irrespective of whether the individuals were parents or not.

The one year risk of death for an 80 year old man with a child was 7.4%, for example, compared with 8.3% for a childless man of the same age.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, also revealed that having children is actually more beneficial as you age, and it is particularly greater for men than women.

The findings apply to men and women, the researchers claim, although fathers saw their life expectancy increase more than mothers.

But the results showed the risk of death was lower among those who had at least one child, compared to those who were childless.

In contrast, people who do not have children struggle more for the kind of social support offered by having offspring.

Parenthood could boost your chances of living longer in your later years, according researchers who believe the effect could be down to children helping with care and support.

The associations found were evident among those who were married and unmarried, but seemed to be stronger among those who weren't married-at least among the men: the difference in death risk was 1.2% among unmarried men and 0.6% among those who were married.

Previous studies have suggested that girls are more likely to help their ailing parents than boys.

That study, which looked at 1,600 adults with an average age of 71, found that almost 23 per cent of participants who were considered lonely died within six years of the study.

Unmarried men had the greatest benefit of having kids, suggesting they may be more reliant on their children in the absence of a partner.

Biological factors may also play a role, with previous research suggesting that being pregnant protects women against breast cancer, womb cancer and ovarian cancer.

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