Fertility and pregnancy * Babies and children

Mothers of twins live longer

Mothers of twins live longer Hardier breed of women, study finds

Women who naturally give birth to twins live longer, a study has found.

They also tend to be healthier, more fertile and give birth to their last baby at a later age, the researchers found.

"Having twins will not make you stronger or healthier, but stronger, healthier women are more likely to have twins naturally," said Dr Shannen Robson, an anthropologist at the University of Utah.

The researchers analysed the population records for 58,786 women living in Utah born between 1807 and 1899. Of these, 4,603 mothers gave birth to twins and 54,183 gave birth only to one baby at a time.

The study findings showed that for women born before 1870, mothers of twins were 7.6 per cent less likely to die each year compared to mothers who gave birth to a single baby.

For mothers of twins born between 1870 and 1899, this risk of dying after age 50 was 3.3 per cent lower than for mothers of singletons, but the difference was not statistically significant.

A woman's natural physical fitness – the factor that made twins more likely – was more important before 1870 during the pioneer times, said the researchers.

"When you're a tougher woman, that toughness is more readily apparent when you are tested by adversity," said study co-author, Professor Ken Smith.

"People are always interested in what affects how long we are going to live," he said.

"This study has been able to identify – and it's a fairly novel result – another important factor that contributes to health and longevity in later years, namely, that women bearing twins appear to be healthier.

"That innate healthiness is contributing to their ability to have twins, and it is also contributing to their longevity."

This article was published on Wed 11 May 2011

Image © Robert Hammer - Fotolia.com

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