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Small gap between children risk

12th September 2006

15092006_young_family1.jpgResearch has found that women who wait less than 18 months between having children are more likely to die younger than those who have a bigger gap between siblings.

The study, undertaken by researchers from the Centre of Population Studies at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London looked at three sets of data from women in the UK and the US. The researchers suggest that the higher death rates may be caused by the strain of caring for more than one young child at a time, and the depletion of a woman's nutritional health affected by the short birth interval.

Analysis of the data showed that women who had less than an 18-month gap between children had a death rate after the age of 50 that was 20 per cent higher than those with a larger age gap. They were also more likely to suffer long-term illnesses in later life. The effect was not as pronounced on fathers, who showed a slightly higher mortality rate.

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