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With data from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys' longitudinal study the mortality of currently married women aged under 60 in 1971 was investigated in relation to the number of liveborn children reported at the 1971 census, adjusting for their husbands' social class. Women who had never had children experienced a higher mortality from many causes of death than the parous women, and this was probably due, at least in part, to selective factors. When the analysis was confined to parous women mortality from diabetes mellitus and cervical cancer increased significantly and oesophageal cancer decreased significantly with increasing number of liveborn children. Mortality from all circulatory diseases and from hypertensive disease, ischaemic heart disease, and subarachnoid haemorrhage tended to rise with parity, though the trends were not statistically significant. Mortality from breast cancer decreased significantly with the number of liveborn children, but only when nullipara were included in the analyses. These data suggest that there may be residual and cumulative effects of childbearing which influence patterns of disease in the long term.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





391 - 395


Biology, Cancer, Cardiovascular Effects, Causes Of Death, Data Analysis, Demographic Factors, Developed Countries, Diabetes Mellitus, Diseases, Economic Factors, Endocrine Effects, Endocrine System, Europe, Fertility, Fertility Measurements, Heart Diseases, Macroeconomic Factors, Mortality--women, Neoplasms, Northern Europe, Nulliparity, Parity, Physiology, Population, Population Characteristics, Population Dynamics, Pregnancy History, Research Methodology, Socioeconomic Factors, Socioeconomic Status, United Kingdom, Adolescent, Adult, Diabetes Mellitus, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Middle Aged, Mortality, Neoplasms, Parity, Social Class, United Kingdom