Could Being a Parent Help You Live Longer?

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You may feel as though raising kids would take years off your life, but having children may actually increase your lifespan, according to a new study from Sweden.

Researchers found that, among older adults, those who had children lived longer than those who remained childless. For example, the researchers calculated that, at age 60, men with children were expected to live another 20.2 years, while men without children were expected to live 18.4 more years.

Among 60-year-old women, those with children were expected to live another 24.6 years, while those without children were expected to live 23.1 more years, the researchers calculated. The findings suggest that the social support that children give to their aging parents may contribute to a longer lifespan, the researchers said.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from more than 700,000 men and 725,000 women who were living in Sweden and were born between 1911 and 1925. The participants were followed from age 60 until their death or until the year 2014 (whichever came first).

About three-quarters of the participants had at least one child, and three-quarters were married, at age 60. Not surprisingly, the participants’ risk of death increased with age. But after taking into account a number of other factors, including participants’ levels of education, the researchers found that the risk of death was lower for people who had at least one child, compared with those who were childless.

The study was published on March 14th  in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.


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