Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Mortality in women in relation to their childbearing history.

British Medical Journal 1988; 297 doi: (Published 06 August 1988) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1988;297:391
  1. A. Green,
  2. V. Beral,
  3. K. Moser
  1. Department of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


    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.