If you’ve recently entered the world of parenthood, you’d be forgiven for thinking the sleepless nights, lack of decent diet (coffee for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and utter exhaustion will have a negative impact on your health.
However, there is an upside to joining the parenting party (besides the joy of parenting itself of course!) because research has revealed that far from shortening your lifespan, being a parent actually means you’re likely to live longer.
Research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that by the age of 60, the difference in life expectancy of parents compared to childless adults may be as much as two years.
Using national registry data, scientists tracked the lifespan of Swedish men (704,481) and women (725,290) born between 1911 and 1925, from the age of 60 onwards.
They found that after taking into account influential factors, the risk of death was lower among those who had at least one child than it was among those who did not have children. What’s more, the risk of death was even lower among men than women.
How the mortality advantage of parents over nonparents changes over one’s lifespan is not known, but researchers suggested some hypotheses from the results, including the fact that in old age, the stress of parenthood is likely to be lower because parents can benefit from social support from their children.
Researchers point out that this is an observational study, meaning that no firm conclusions about the causes of the results can be drawn, though it does add to previous studies that have also suggested parents have a longer lifespan. “Our finding that the association grew stronger when parents became older is further in agreement with research suggesting that childless people face support deficits only towards the end of life,” they wrote in a press release.
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