How having children may increase lifespan by two years
The sleepless nights and stress that often accompany parenthood may not sound like the ingredients for a longer life, but according to a new study, having children could add years to a parent’s lifespan.
The research team – including Dr. Karin Modig of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden – found that people who had children may live up to two years longer than those who are childless.
The authors recently published their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. According to Modig and colleagues, previous studies have indicated that parents may live longer than those without children. However, the researchers note that the reasons behind this link have been unclear, and little research has been conducted on how this association changes throughout a lifetime. With the aim of addressing these research gaps, the team used national registry data to gather information on 704,481 men and 725,290 women who were born between 1911 and 1925, and who were living in Sweden.
The team assessed the marital status of each person, the number of children they had, and the sex of each child. The researchers then calculated how parenthood influenced the lifespan of each person from the age of 60 onward.
Compared with people who did not have children, the researchers found that those who had at least one child were at lower risk of death. At the age of 60, for example, the researchers found that men with children lived around two years longer than childless men, while women with children were likely to live around 1.5 years longer than childless women.
These findings remained after accounting for a number of possible confounding factors such as educational attainment, the team reports. The researchers also found that the association between having children and a longer lifespan grew with age, with men seeing the largest life expectancy increase as a result of parenthood.