Can Having Twins Increase your Longevity?

Two of a kind
Creative Commons License photo credit: e³°°°

There’s been some research that shows that women who have at least one child tend to live, on average, longer than those that don’t. Now, there has been research that suggests women who have twins or multiples may actually be both healthier and stronger than women that have their children one at a time.

This study from the University of Utah concluded that mothers who have twins or triplets may have specific physiological characteristics that not only makes them more fertile and likely to have twins or multiples, but also may help them live longer.

More than 60,000 women were included in this study, all from Utah. All of the women were born before the turn of the 20th century. (This was done, primarily, to avoid the results being affected by modern fertility and contraceptive changes. After all, fertility treatments often increase the odds of having twins artificially.) In other words, the numbers were based on the women’s natural fertility.

Natural selection

In the study, the researchers concluded that the longevity had to do with natural selection, and the idea of the survival of the fittest. Women fit enough to carry a multiple pregnancy to term (without the aid of modern medicine) would have to be naturally stronger.

Its genetics, not the actual pregnancy process

Trying to conceive twins through modern fertility interventions won’t extend your lifespan, of course. The premise is that your genetic makeup is already predisposed to longer life, and that’s not impacted by fertility treatments.

The fact that multiples tend to run in families also suggests that there is a genetic connection between having multiples and other genetic factors, such as being healthier and living longer.

This study is still relevant in light of recent advances in fertility, however. In some ways, it should serve as notice to women who do get pregnant with multiples. More is required of them than mothers of singles – at least, all at once.

So, what’s your experience been? Do twins run in your family? If so, are the women in your family especially long-lived?


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