Having kids may shorten a man’s life, groundbreaking study reveals –

CHICAGO- Choosing to become a parent could end up shortening a man’s life. A groundbreaking new study reveals that fatherhood can have alarming consequences on men’s heart health as they age. Researchers at Northwestern University and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago found that cardiovascular health tended to be worse among fathers than among men without children.

The conclusions, in a few words:

The research, published in the journal Focus AJPM, found that as men age, those with children tend to have poorer cardiovascular health than their childless peers. This was determined by looking at factors such as diet, exercise, smoking, weight, blood pressure and blood lipid/glucose levels.

Researchers hypothesize that the added responsibilities and stress of parenting make it more difficult for fathers to maintain a healthy lifestyle through habits such as exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods. Simply put, having children can drain a man’s time and resources.

However, the study also revealed an intriguing paradox: Despite poorer cardiovascular health, fathers actually had lower rates of death from all causes than childless men. One possible explanation is that fathers benefit from stronger social support systems and have future guardians, namely their adult children.

There are also striking differences between racial and ethnic groups. Black fathers defied the general trend, showing lower mortality rates than childless black men. According to the Northwestern team, this suggests that fatherhood might somehow protect the health of black men, perhaps by incentivizing them to adopt healthier behaviors.

Unfortunately, young fathers (those under age 25 when they had their first child) had the worst heart health outcomes, also with higher mortality rates, particularly among black and Hispanic men. Scientists suspect that socioeconomic factors such as financial instability and lack of social benefits make it extremely difficult for young fathers to prioritize self-care.

Black fathers defied the general trend, showing lower mortality rates than childless black men. (© Syda Productions –

How did the researchers make this discovery?

For this first-of-its-kind multi-ethnic study, researchers analyzed data from 2,814 men aged 45 to 84 who participated in the study. Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The men identified as black, Chinese, Hispanic, or white. Participants were classified as fathers (82% of the group) or non-fathers based on whether or not they had reported having children during an interview. The researchers then comprehensively assessed each man’s cardiovascular health using criteria from the American Heart Association’s 8 Life’s Essential measures (excluding sleep).

By tracking and comparing these cardiovascular health factors between fathers and childless men over time, researchers were able to analyze the impact of fatherhood on heart health as the men aged into adulthood. Their robust analysis adjusted for potentially conflicting variables and revealed striking results.

What do the researchers say?

“The changes in heart health we saw suggest that the added responsibility of childcare and the stress of transitioning to fatherhood may make it difficult for men to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet and exercise,” said the study’s corresponding author, Dr. John James Parker, an internist, pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics and general internal medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. Press. “We really need to study fathers as a unique population and track men’s health outcomes as they become fathers. Cardiovascular health is particularly important since behaviors and health factors are all modifiable.

“If you are under 25, you might be less financially stable, your brain would be less mature, and, especially for racial and ethnic minorities, you might have lower-paying jobs with fewer benefits and welfare policies. limited time off,” says Parker. “All of this can make it harder to focus on your health. There are many public health interventions for young mothers, but no one has ever really looked at young fathers in this way.

“Often we focus on the health of mothers and children, and we don’t even think about fathers, but their health has a major influence on their family,” concludes Parker, noting previous studies that have found rates of higher obesity in children. partners if their spouse was obese. “To improve the health of families, we must consider the multidirectional relationship between mothers, fathers, other caregivers and children. »

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Gn Health

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