Childlessness linked with premature death

A new study of couples seeking IVF treatment found that women who were unsuccessful in having a child were much more likely to die prematurely than women who had children, BBC News reported.

The Danish study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health analyzed 21,276 childless couples who had registered for IVF from 1994  to 2005.  Throughout the time period, 15,149 children were born, and a total of 96 women and 220 men died.

The researchers calculated that the childless mothers were four times more likely to die earlier of conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer and accidents.  The involuntarily childless men were two times more likely than the men with children.

According to BBC News, the results have already drawn criticism from those noting that only a small number of deaths occurred during the 11-year period, meaning the risk for early death was relatively low all around.  Also, some critics say that because all of the couples were seeking IVF treatment, the subjects are not indicative of a more general population.

"People having IVF tend to be desperate for a child, if they are unsuccessful they may be depressed- it may even be this rather than childlessness that is playing a part,” Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist, told BBC News. “One can only guess.”

Click for more from BBC News.