People with Kids Likely to Live Longer than their Childless Peers

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A Swedish study suggests parenthood can add years to parents’ life expectancy.

A recent study suggests having kids boost the life expectancy of parents, when compared to people without children. Scientists cannot fully explain the link but the effect may have something to do with offspring helping with their parents’ support and care into old age.

Parenthood Tied to Living Longer

Previous research has also shown that parents tend to live longer than people without children. Yet, this study is the first to track the benefits of having children throughout old age.

In their study, scientists at the Sweden-based Karolinska Institute analyzed the health records of nearly 1.5 million seniors aged 60 to 100. The team found that while the mortality risk increased as volunteers aged, those having children had greater longevity.

The study was published this week in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

When they reached their 60s, men with children had a life expectancy of 20.2 years while men without children had a life expectancy of 18.4 years. Women aged 60 who had children had one year and a half on their remaining life expectancy when compared to women without children (24.6 years vs 23.1 years).

At the age of 80, the life expectancy of people having children stood at 7.7 years for males and 9.5 years for females, while the life expectancy of childless people was 7 years and 8.9 years, respectively.

Benefits of Having Children are More Evident as Parents Age

Researchers also found that the benefits of parenthood were more evident as people aged, an effect which was more pronounced in men. Researchers also looked at the risk of death within one year for each age group.

The study revealed that the sex of the children did not influence their parent’s life expectancy. Nevertheless, most participants had only one child, so this aspect needs further clarification.

Researchers couldn’t tell why having children is associated with a better life expectancy. The team speculates that children are looking better after their aging parents than strangers are. Children can provide superior care, emotional support, and even better treatment options.

Nevertheless, other factors may be at play. For instance, parents may get involved in healthier lifestyles as they feel responsible for their children. Still, while there are other factors that can add years to one’s clock, a 1.5% difference on longevity at age 90 that children provide is still substantial.
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