Being a parent elongates your life: study

A new study from Sweden has found a link between having a child and increased life expectancy

While parents are known to be the givers of life, a new study has suggested that children also make their parents live longer.

According to the study, which followed the lifespan of more than 1,4 million men and women from Sweden who were born between 1911 and 1925, it was found that people who had at least one child had ‘lower death risks’.

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The study which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, concluded that at the age of 80, the life expectancy of a man who had fathered a child was at 7 years and 8 months while childless men only had a life expectancy of 7 years. At age 60, men that had children could expect to live another 20,2 years while childless men could live another 18,4 years.

A mother on the other hand, at age 80 had a life expectancy of 9 years and 6 months, compared to the 8 years and 11 months for women who had never had children.

Women aged 60 had a life expectancy of 24,6 years and women without children had a life expectancy of 23,1 years.

However, it’s important to emphasise that while the study can confirm a strong link between increased life expectancy and having a child, it cannot conclude that having a child is the cause for the more years added to parents’ lives, reports The Guardian. 

All the researchers could do was hypothesise what it was that made this difference. According to the researchers, it could possibly come down to children playing an important role in looking after their parents in their old age.

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“Children can provide support in navigating the healthcare system, how to take medication, providing emotional support,” said Karin Modig, a co-author of the research in an interview with The Independent. 

However, Modig does conclude that having a child does not have the biggest impact on death risk in light of other things, but the seemingly small difference is quite significant.

“In terms of all other causes that would affect your death risk in these old ages having a child is not among the greatest ones,” Modig said. “But it is still a 1,5% difference [for 90-year-old men] which is still substantial.”

– Additional sources: The Independent, The Guardian