New study shows strain having children puts on women’s health

A new study has found that the more children a woman has, the more she is at 'greater risk' from suffering from a serious health problem.

Researchers found that women who had between three and four children were more likely to have serious health implications, but the most significant increase was in those with five or more.

In fact, the new study has revealed that mothers with five or more children were 40 per cent more likely to suffer a serious heart attack in the next 30 years over mums with just one or two children.

The study, conducted by researchers at Cambridge University, analysed more than 8,000 women from the United States between the ages of 45 and 64.

Cambridge’s Dr Clare Oliver-Williams, who led the research, said: ‘We know that pregnancy and childbirth put a tremendous strain on the heart and raising children can be very stressful too.

‘We don’t want to add to the stress people have in their everyday lives but equip them with the knowledge to do something about it.’

‘The number of children a woman has had is an easy sign of whether a woman is at greater risk,’ Dr Clare added.

The study revealed that having five or more kids was associated with a 30 per cent increased risk of heart disease, a 25 per cent increased risk of suffering a stroke and a 17 per cent chance of having heart failure, compared to mothers of just one or two children.

‘We all know it’s hard to take care of your health when you have children,’ Dr Clare said, ‘but hopefully this research can help show how important it is and, perhaps, having children can provide some extra motivation.’

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Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation which funded the study, said: ‘While it’s perhaps not surprising that having more children can mean that mums have less time to look after their own health, this research brings home just how important it is for everyone to keep an eye on their heart health, particularly busy parents.

‘Research like this reminds us that – regardless of the stereotype of the overweight, middle-aged man having a heart attack – heart disease strikes men and women alike. As the major cause of heart attacks and strokes, heart disease cruelly tears families apart.’

For more information about heart health, visit bhf.org.uk/heart-health