New Study Finds That Having Sons Can Make You Age Quicker

By Zainab Pervez in Science and Technology Published On 13th June 2023

Children are a precious gift, bringing joy and fulfillment to many parents. However, a recent study suggests that the experience of raising sons may have an unexpected impact on parental aging.

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The National Library of Medicine published a study in 2022 with the title "Sons and parental cognition in mid-life and older adulthood."


The study aimed to examine the potential connection between the number of sons a parent has and their long-term health.

To achieve this, the study analyzed the cognitive baseline levels and the rate of cognitive decline in a large group of 13,222 adults aged 50 years and older. The participants were sourced from the US Health and Retirement Study.

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Among the group of parents included in the study, 82.3 percent had at least one son. Furthermore, 61.6 percent of the respondents identified as female.

The study adds: "We included only participants with at least one child."


In addition to examining the number of children each participant had and their cognitive levels, the researchers also considered various sociodemographic factors that influenced their lives.

"Associations were evaluated using linear mixed-effects models, stepwise adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related factors," the abstract said.

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The researchers' findings shed light on the potential influence of having at least one son on parents' cognitive health.

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Remarkably, the study concluded that having sons is associated with long-lasting negative effects on parents' cognitive well-being.

Parents who had at least one son displayed a more pronounced decline in cognitive abilities compared to those who had no sons.

Furthermore, the study revealed that parents with multiple sons experienced an even more rapid cognitive decline compared to parents who only had daughters.


Their analysis also revealed that the downturn in parents' mental abilities was faster if they had multiple sons, compared to parents who only had daughters.

As the effect was the same among mothers and fathers, an aspect of parenting sons 'might play a role in cognitive ageing', the researchers said.

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The mechanism behind their finding was not investigated. 

A child's biological sex may also 'influence' parental behaviors, with mothers of sons weighing more, on average, than those who have daughters for 'a long time after pregnancy'.


This combined benefit on physical and mental health among parents of daughters 'may contribute to lower risk of dementia', the team said.

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But they suggested that the parents of sons may be more likely to be 'disadvantaged later in life as daughters provide more social support than sons and more often become informal caregivers'.

While the exact reasons or mechanisms behind this correlation remain unclear, the study suggests that family dynamics and interactions play a significant role rather than solely relying on biological factors.


Importantly, the study's results indicate that the impact of having sons on parental aging is not exclusive to a specific gender. Similar patterns were observed among both mothers and fathers.

The official findings concluded: "The results support the theory that having sons might have a long-term negative effect on parental cognition."