Could family size play a role in the long-term health of a parent? Results of a study of more than 1.5 million Norwegian men and women hint that the answer is yes. The Daily Mail has more on the research, which appears in the journal Social Science & Medicine:
[The study] found that becoming a parent has a clear effect on the chances of developing conditions from cancer and heart disease to becoming an alcoholic or dying in a car crash.
But the relationship is not straightforward - it depends on the number of children a couple have.
Too few or none at all, and they are at increased risk of dying from almost all of the conditions studied, perhaps because they lack the extra motivation to look after their health.
But too many, and they struggle to cope with the financial and emotional stress of bringing up a large family.
Having two children, however, is just right.
The research is interesting, and makes me feel a bit smug about my family of four, but the authors emphasize there is still a lot to understand. "Research on associations between parenting histories, health related behaviours, social support exchanges and reported or measured stress is needed to clarify mechanisms underlying the associations reported here," they wrote in the paper.