Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Women With More Children Live Longer

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The University of New South Wales in Australia has published the results of a study of 1,200 women who were 60 years or older. What were the findings? Women who have children live longer than women who do not have children. Even more salient, the more children that women have, the longer their life expectancy. Women who had at least six children were 40 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period of the survey.

The survey, however, gratuitously threw in the caveat that women should not have too many children because it is “bad for the environment.” LifeSiteNews reported the story on April 13.

The researchers had no particular explanation for why women with lots of kids lived longer, but the results dovetailed with findings in other countries that had studied the life expectancy of women and the number of children they had. The results also corresponded to studies of the life expectancy of men, who lived longer if they had more children, although the connection was not as profound as that with women.

Some have speculated that fetal-cell microchimerism, the persistence of fetal cells in a mother after pregnancy, has unique healing benefits for months or years. In 2011, science writer Jena Pinctott published a book that explains how fetal cells penetrate a mother’s body and that those cells migrate to injured tissue to spur healing, which, Pinctott says, strongly suggests a mechanism through which a baby’s cells “repair and rejuvenate moms.” She also states that these healing cells may remain with a mother her entire life. The beneficial health properties of pregnancy in other areas have also been discovered in the last few decades of research.

Studies of Amish families show that mothers live longer with each child up to a total of 14 children, but that the life expectancy of the mother begins to decline after having 14 children. Considering that the Amish eschew much of modern technology, including medical technology, even for difficult pregnancies, the strong indication is that pregnancy is not only a natural and healthy condition for women but that deliberate childlessness is dangerous to the health of women.

This news comes as medical researchers are studying the closing gap in life expectancy between men and women. In 1970, the gap was 7.6 years, and men, on average, lived only 89.9 percent as long as women. In 1990, the gap was 7.0 years, and men live 91.1 percent as long as men. In 2010, according to estimates from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the gap between the life expectancy of men and women had shrunk to 5.1 year and men live 93.7 percent as long as women. In 10 years, the estimates state, the gap will have shrunk to 4.8 years and men will live 94.1 percent as long as women.

Before the rise of feminism and politically correct thinking, the connection between motherhood and being fulfilled as a woman were obvious to women, as well as to men. We also considered the nuclear family — father, mother, and children — to be the epitome of emotionally healthy life. Pregnancy and childbirth, of course, carried serious health risks. As medical science learned to use antiseptics and to surgically heal torn tissue at childbirth, the life expectancy of women soared.  The study of nutrition also helped women live longer. 

But, as the Bible reminds us, after the child is born, most mother’s hearts are filled with perhaps the most vital tonic for good health that medicine will ever find: joy. One might suggest that the University of New South Wales, while studying all of the biochemical aspects of pregnancy on the body of a woman, also consider that the emotional and spiritual aspects of bringing life into the world also has a real and measurable influence of the life expectancy of a woman.