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Having children increases the life expectancy and mental health of both men and women, a new study suggests.Aarhus University researchers in Denmark admit that this is not the first time the connection has been made, but point out that the link between children and longer life was still iffy because of many unknowns in the studies.
For example, voluntarily childless people could be different from those who could not have children on their own.
In the new study, published today, Dec. 5, in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers analysed data from want-to-be parents in Denmark. They analysed data from 21,276 childless couples undergoing in vitro fertility treatments between 1994 and 2005.
15,210 of the couples successfully conceived and gave birth to children, while 1,564 adopted. The researchers looked at the survival and mental health of the couples up to 2005.
They found that the male death rate was twice as high for men who wanted, but couldn’t have children. For women, it was four times higher.
For men, either adopting children or having biological children got rid of this effect. But women who adopted instead of having their own children only lowered their death rate by half. They also saw that couples who adopted were half as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness.