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Rachel Gurevich

Does Childlessness Lead to a Shorter Life?

By December 6, 2012

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An interesting study came out this week from Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health saying that mortality rates for those without children are higher than those with them. What's the most interesting aspect of this story is they didn't just look at those with biological kids, but also at parents who adopted. So it really looks like not having kids - as opposed to just being infertile - is a risk factor for earlier death.

I have not yet read the study or looking into it in detail. That said, the MSNBC article on the study quotes the head researcher as saying lifestyle choices may lead to the higher death rate. He says that those who don't have kids may take bigger risks, like say, trying sky diving. (Ok, so the article didn't mention sky diving in particular, but that was the idea.)

My guess would be that depression and PTSD - mental illnesses that can result from infertility, especially after unsuccessful fertility treatment - would be connected to the higher mortality rates. But the study's abstract states that the rate of psychiatric illness did not differ between the couples with kids and those without. I found that rather surprising.

What do you think could be the cause of the higher mortality for those without kids? Do you think it's true that those without kids take more risks and live generally less healthy lives?

More on coping while trying to conceive:

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