Have Babies Spaced Out 2006-09-12Posted by clype in Health, Statistics.
Women who have their children in quick succession — and those who never start a family — run the risk of an earlier death and poorer health in later life, research suggested yesterday 2006-09-11.
The study found that women who had less than 18 months between births faced up to a 20 per cent higher risk of early death compared with those with longer gaps. The researchers said the strains of having to look after young children of a similar age might be behind the poorer health of the mothers.
The study, funded by ‘The Economic and Social Research Council’, also found that childless women had a 20 per cent higher risk of death as they got older, compared with women with two children.
Women who had five or more children faced between a 12 and 25 per cent higher risk of death than those who had given birth twice. And teenage mothers faced between a 15 and 30 per cent higher mortality risk compared with those who gave birth after the age of 20.
Professor Ms.Emily Grundy, of ‘The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine‘, said there was no single reason for the increased health risks faced by these groups of women.
‘What it shows is that people’s life choices have a cumulative effect on your health in old age,’ she said.
Ms.Grundy said that women who had a smaller gap between pregnancies faced added pressures of looking after children who were near in age, which could have an impact on their future well-being.
‘Nutrition may also be a factor in these women if the body does not have time to readjust,’ she added.
The researcher, who looked at information on thousands of women in the UK and the USA, said that one explanation for the higher death rates among childless women might be that ill-health leads them not to have children in the first place.
‘Another reason might be that we know social support is important as you get older,’ said Ms.Grundy.
‘If you do not have children you may be less likely to have someone to provide that support, and your health suffers as a result.’
At the other end of the scale, the researcher said that women with five or more children might suffer poorer health as a result of the extra strains on the body.
‘Cost is a factor, as you may end up with less money to look after your own health the more children you have,’ she said.
As well as higher mortality risks, teenage mothers were also found to have more depression and respiratory disease.
Once again, Ms.Grundy said this could be due to the added stresses and restrictions on life options associated with being a younger mother.
Ms.Susan Crane, of ‘Women’s Health Concern‘, said:
‘It is important that women have access to all the information they need to make healthy life choices for themselves as individuals.
‘Any research should be taken with a grain of salt, as there are no single right answers for every individual. Nobody should be prescriptive about how women choose to live their lives.’
- ‘Quick series of births “can mean women dying earlier”‘, Lyndsay Moss, The Scotsman, 2006-09-12