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Having more children increases womens risk of heart disease

Wednesday 6th June 2018
A new study has shown that the more children a mother has, the more likely she is to experience heart disease.
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Women with more children may be at a higher risk of developing heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and North Carolina have analysed data from more than 8,000 US women aged 45 to 64 years, finding that the more children a mother has, the greater her risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

Having five or more children was shown to be associated with a 40 per cent increased risk of a serious heart attack in the next 30 years compared to having only one or two children, after taking into account how long the women breastfed for.

Looking after five or more children was also associated with a 30 per cent increased risk of heart disease, a 25 per cent higher chance of stroke and a 17 per cent increase in the risk of heart failure compared to having one to two children.

Meanwhile, women with a history of pregnancy loss but no children had a 60 per cent increased chance of heart disease and a 45 per cent higher risk in heart failure in the following 30 years, compared to women with one or two live births. This reflects the underlying health problems that increase the risk of pregnancy loss as well as heart problems.

Study leader Dr Clare Oliver-Williams at the University of Cambridge said: "The aim of my research is not to scare women, but to bring to their attention as early as possible whether they might be at increased risk of heart attacks.

"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."

Written by Mathew Horton

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