Childbearing women `live longer`

Sydney: A new study has revealed that women with children live longer than those without.

The study, of older Australians living in Dubbo, found women with six or more children were about 40 percent less likely to die during the 16-year follow-up than women with no children.

The study leader, Leon Simons, from the University of NSW, said some had up to 14.

“I’m not advocating for you to have six or 14 kids but it does seem having a few children is good for survival,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.

The study used information collected from more than 1200 men and 1500 women who were aged over 60 when the researchers first examined them in 1988 and 1989.

“They were having kids in the ‘40s and ‘50s, pre-oral contraceptive pill,’’Associate Professor Simons said.

‘‘In this age group large numbers of children were quite common,” Simons said.

Compared with women who had no children, those with two had a 17 percent decreased risk of death.

For women with three children there was a 20 percent decreased risk, and this pattern largely continued with additional children.

Associate Professor Simons said it was not known exactly why childbirth might protect women in later life, but similar findings were seen overseas.

His study also indicated children protected men from earlier death, but the results were not definitive.

More children was linked to increased deaths from heart disease but this was accompanied by a decrease in deaths from cancer and respiratory disease, the authors wrote in the journal Age and Ageing.