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.”

Share your comments below

  • So pleased that no one knew this in the early days when it was routine for 14 or so kids – mu mum was the 14th for my grandma and she died in her 100’s. I had 4 but am still in excellent health.


  • I stopped at three children


  • Interesting research.


  • That’s why I’ve just got two!


  • I’ve no doubt having more than 3 children does much more to a woman’s health including stress levels to high blood pressure to mental health issues, etc.


  • Then they say having no children increases your risk of breast cancer, coffee is good for your heart, coffee is bad for your heart-the list keeps growing and changing. I think you need to do what is right for you.

    • I will never give up coffee! :) Advice does change and I agree with a commonsense approach and maintaining good health……but again….will never give up coffee! :)


  • Not that I was planning on 5 kids…


  • I understood that the whole ‘heart disease’ thing is rather recent. It never used to be the leading cause of death in the USA or anywhere else, but food changes – like bad fats, more processing, etc. – along with less activity have led to it being a problem now. I’m sure it affects mothers as much as anyone else, and studies that examine number of pregnancies or anything else are going to find more people dying of heart issues because of the whole ‘bad food thing’….. I doubt whether kids/pregnancy are really the main cause of heart disease. In the ‘old days’ large families were so common (my mother certainly did fine with 4 kids but she kept active and wasn’t overweight)… so I’d agree with the conclusion.. it’s all about looking after yourself and taking the time to find out what foods, in what supermarkets, are killing you and with what disease.


  • I think it really depends why and how you have that many children. I had my first lot in my twenties but the surprises in my forties and at 51 were still welcomed. I think the later ones while being a stress on me , I had older children to help out. The twins at 51 were the most stressful due to age not number of children.


  • I think the study should have been done on a younger population too as the older we get the more chance of heart issues ect arise


  • It makes sense pregnancy and child birth takes a huge toll on your body.


  • Someone should tell that mum in the UK, pregnant for the 21st time! I only had 2 and have noticed body changes


  • This article underlines the importance of maintaining heart health.


  • Lol, thinking about the article this week sharing about the mum who’s pregnant with her 21st child ! Hope her heart is healthy ! To be honest I think it all has to do with how relaxed you are. The more kids you have, the more hands you may expect of your older children to help with your younger children. Having children doesn’t have to be stressful, although we all go through stressful periods in life, but often these are brought on by other circumstances.


  • It makes sense that it takes a bigger toll on the body, but I also think genetics plays a big part in longevity.


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