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Having children may increase lifespan

Having children may increase lifespan

The study, which ran until the end of 2014, also gathered data on whether the participants were married, how many children they had, and whether they had boys or girls.

At 60 years of age, the difference in life expectancy between those with children and those without was nearly two years for men and 1.5 years for women.

By age 80, men who fathered children had a remaining life expectancy of seven years and eight months, compared to seven years for childless men, said the team. The study wound up including almost 705,000 men and more than 725,000 women.

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.

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"That the association increased with parents' age and was somewhat stronger for the non-married may suggest that social support is a possible explanation".

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 findings reveal that the benefits of having children became more pronounced with age - an effect that was greater for men than women.

There may be biological reasons for parents having a longer life, but, as researchers explained, this is an observational study, so there's no definite conclusion to be drawn.

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To find out if parenthood might help stave off death in older age, the researchers, studied the records of almost 1.5 million people who were born as early as 1911, looking at when they died and whether they had children. According to the researchers, men and women with at least one child had lower death risks than those without. By the age of 90, these differences had risen to 1.5 percent among men and to 1.1 percent among women.

When it came to married with children versus unmarried, the difference in death risk for unmarried men was 1.2 per cent. Researchers speculate that unmarried men might be relying more on their children for care giving in the absence of a partner.

"Support from adult children to aging parents may be of importance for parental health and longevity", researchers say in the report.

The study merely pointed out a correlation, and can not conclude that having children is the cause of the life expectancy gains, the researchers admitted. "My hunch is it does not matter what you do with the kids". They also can reach out to programs that provide the kind of support one would expect from a son or daughter - for example, programs that help deliver groceries or drive you to doctor appointments.

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Fathers gained more in life expectancy than mothers, a team wrote in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health - and particularly in older age.

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