Parents who have five or more children may face a higher risk of heart disease than those who have only one or two, a recent study suggests. A team of researchers looked at data from nearly 25,000 participants, aged 50 and older, who took part in a national health survey. The findings have been published in the Journal of Aging and Health.
“Many studies have linked women’s reproductive characteristics, such as their age at their first childbirth, with their risk of heart disease later in life. But there wasn’t much known about the association between family size and heart disease and very few studies have looked at how fatherhood may relate to men’s risk of heart disease,” said Sara Hipp, lead researcher of the study.
The team of researchers found that 30 per cent of the parents who said they had five or more children had a heart condition such as coronary heart disease, angina or congestive heart failure. Just 22 per cent of those who had only one or two children, and 21 per cent of those who had no children, said they had been diagnosed with a heart condition.
Among all the respondents, about one quarter said they’d been told by a doctor within the past two years that they had heart disease. “Our data showed that, in both sexes, having more children was associated with a greater risk of heart disease,” Hipp explained.
The link remained even when the researchers adjusted for other characteristics that can affect people’s risk of heart diseases such as age, race, ethnicity and birthplace. In women, the association persisted even after researchers adjusted for lifestyle variables, such as whether they smoked or exercised at least twice a week.