Giving Birth Early Increases a Woman’s Risk of Dying

A mother and her newborn in the neonatal department at Kibuye Hospital, Karongi District, Western Rwanda

A recent study has revealed that certain hormonal factors that occur during menstruation, pregnancy and breast feeding hugely influences a woman’s risk of dying early.

The study found that women who had ever taken birth control pills had a 10 per cent lower risk of death during the study period than those who had never taken the pills (among women who had never smoked).

They also found that women who got their first period at age 15 or older had a 10 per cent lower risk of dying over the 13 years than those who got their first period at age 12 or younger.

Those who gave birth to their first child even later, when they were 31 or older, had an 8 percent higher risk of dying during the study than those who gave birth to their first child when they were between the ages of 26 and 30.


The researchers observed 323,0000 women from 10 European countries.

Study author Melissa Merritt, a research fellow in cancer epidemiology at the Imperial College London said “We observed, after controlling for other factors known to influence risk of death — such as body mass index, smoking habits and physical activity levels — that several reproductive factors were associated with a significantly lower risk of death.

We hope that with additional study, these results may contribute to the development of improved strategies to promote better long-term health in women.”



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