The more children a woman has, the greater the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
Those with five or more children were 40 per cent more likely to have a serious heart attack in the next 30 years compared to women with one or two children, shared Daily Mail.
Pregnancy and labour put strain on the heart, while children are stressful and stop mothers looking after themselves properly, the researchers suggest.
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.’
Scientists from Cambridge and North Carolina studied data from more than 8,000 women from the United States, who were aged between 45 and 64.
Having five or more children was also associated with a 30 per cent increased risk of heart disease, the major cause of heart attacks. They were a quarter (25 per cent) more likely to have a stroke and almost a sixth (17 per cent) more likely to have heart failure than mothers of one or two.
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.
‘We all know it’s hard to take care of your health when you have children, but hopefully this research can help show how important it is and, perhaps, having children can provide some extra motivation.’
The research will be presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester.
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.”
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