Will your kids keep you from dying young?

Two new studies show that men and women who have children are less likely to die young.

One study from Denmark looked at men and women with biological children as well as those who adopted. The study, which was written about on WebMD, found that:

“Parenthood apparently decreased the risk of early death. Mothers with a biological child were four times less likely to die an early death than childless women.”

“Fathers with a biological child were two times less likely to die an early death than childless men.”

“Men who adopted were nearly half as likely to die early as men who had no children.”

For women, the effect of adoption on longevity was not significant, Esben Agerbo, PhD, associate professor at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark, said.

For the methodology and details on the study then please click here.

However the scientist says that it is just a link and does not prove cause and effect.

He can only speculate as to why parenthood may increase longevity.”

”My best guess is health behaviors,” he says. “When people have kids, they tend to live healthier.”

“They pay more attention, he says, to lifestyle habits. For instance, they may get to bed earlier and get more sleep, knowing they have to get up early to feed children and do other tasks.”

However, another study out of Stanford University argues that people with fertility issues are more likely to have health problems that could lead to an earlier death.

“The new findings echo those of Michael Eisenberg, MD, director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University.”

“In a study published in 2011, he found that childless married men had a higher risk of dying from heart disease acquired after age 50 than did men with two or more children.”

“The new study findings, he says, are ”certainly consistent with the identified link between childlessness and cardiovascular mortality.”

“As for how to explain the link, he says, “our group [of researchers] subscribes to a biologic link.”

“He says that fertility problems, common among the childless, may share some of the same origins as other health problems.”

I think it’s a fascinating issue, and I have several thoughts on it

  • I’m actually surprised that the studies have found that having kids helps you live longer. My initial thought was that kids cause parents a lot of stress and I’m surprised that doesn’t affect their health in an adverse way.
  • I agree with the first doctor that you do have to set a good example for you kids and are hopefully not drinking, smoking or doing drugs in front of them or excessively, which probably does lengthen you life. I also think parents are hopefully trying to set good examples in eating, sleeping and exercise. (Is that wishful thinking?)
  • I also wonder if they have factored in that people with children have someone to care for them, as they get older. They have someone to make sure they get to the doctors and get good groceries and take the medicine they need. (Again, is that wishful thinking? That is what I have observed in my family.)

My husband thinks it’s all about a stable environment. He says that people who have kids live in a stable environment and so they are more likely to take care of themselves and live longer.

So what do you think? Which relationship between living longer and having kids makes sense to you?

Do people with kids take better care of themselves because they have to be around to take care of the kids and/or because they have to set examples of healthy living?

Do you think there is a biological link where people who have fertility problems are more likely to have inherent health issues?

Or do you think it’s a matter of a more stable life? That you wouldn’t have kids if you weren’t stable and stability leads to healthier living?

18 comments Add your comment

They already have...

December 11th, 2012
1:15 pm

…as only the good die young, and I am still here and old as dirt…

Mayhem

December 11th, 2012
1:21 pm

I don’t even know where to start…….

this is a stupid study, with stupid results. And some idiot got paid for it.

Georgia

December 11th, 2012
1:29 pm

Denmark? It’s the decriminalized pot, man. Let’s move to Seattle and live forever, man! And hookers too, in Denmark. Let’s stop off in Vegas on our way to Seattle man. I wonder how many dog years forever is, man.

Misty

December 11th, 2012
2:34 pm

I don’t think that is necessarily true. Even parents with young children can be involved in an accident which takes their lives, be the victim of a home robbery, etc. I think that it’s great if parents can be good examples to their children, though. However, as I look around me, parents aren’t a good example to their children. Good luck with that one! However, I look forward to reading others’ thoughts and opinions on the subject!

FCM

December 11th, 2012
2:37 pm

I am pretty sure the stress and anxiety of parenting has taken years off my life…YES I love them. YES I like parenting them. However, I am sure I would live as long as Methusala if I had not had kids.

Scooby

December 11th, 2012
2:57 pm

I agree with Mayhem. Kids don’t have anything to do with it.

Kat

December 11th, 2012
3:11 pm

I don’t know yet – I’m still too young to be considered “old,” but if I’m dead, then I’ll be dead and won’t care anyway.

I assume the reason for having kids is so there is someone to pick out your nursing home? So I’m usually pretty nice to my kids.

Carnac the Magnificent

December 11th, 2012
3:40 pm

Answer – “most” do not have wives

Question – Why do women live longer than men?

Phil from Athens

December 11th, 2012
4:37 pm

How does one get paid by the AJC to write such crap? Do you even read what you post?

Phil from Athens

December 11th, 2012
4:38 pm

“He says that people who have kids live in a stable environment and so they are more likely to take care of themselves and live longer.”

People who live in Section 8 housing have lots of kids and they’d disagree with your husband.

catlady

December 11th, 2012
7:26 pm

I don’t think we live longer. I think it just SEEMS longer! LOL

Apparently Michael has not been around the majority of families that live around here. Stable environment? Please! Families in my area consider their environment stable if they can make the trailer payment for a year before getting kicked out.

catlady

December 11th, 2012
7:27 pm

After saying the above, I know my children have made life worth living in some dark moments. THEY are the reason I have a PhD.

Tiffany

December 11th, 2012
10:37 pm

I agree that the stability of the family can be a positive factor to longevity…and NO it doesn’t have to be a traditional family unit, just one that loves each other and cares for the well being of each other. What I have a problem with is the difference between biological and adopted children…Why should it matter which you have when either type of children would be a benefit to a parents life?

A reader

December 11th, 2012
11:15 pm

After becoming a parent I definitely took less risks than before. I think that certainly weighs into the “average life span” equation. Before I became a parent, so what if I died doing something risky — anything from driving recklessly to climbing Mt Everest. After I became a parent I had to think, what would happen to my child if I die doing something reckless? The choices I see are awful and I will not risk putting my child into any of those situations.

catlady

December 12th, 2012
7:03 am

Tiffany, the authors were trying to parse out if it was caused by biology (some change that happens in the body after having a child) or nurture (due to the parental feelings, perhaps.) It was NOT a dump on adoptive families!

FCM

December 12th, 2012
10:21 am

@ Catlady…I told someone the other day (we were discussing my promotion), that if it were not for my kids I probably would be under a bed scared to death due to the economy! Now of course that is not the literal truth, but fact is I am better off now than when I divoced because of my kids. I work (darn) hard to give them a house, clothes, food, stabilty, & some “extras” when we can. I went back to school (still going) for a 2nd degree myself to do better for my kids. I can totally believe yours helped you work for that PhD.

motherjanegoose

December 12th, 2012
10:30 am

Congrats FCM…a promotion!

FCM

December 12th, 2012
1:31 pm

Thank you MJG!