Stress of young fatherhood may increase risk of premature death

A study from Finland has indicating that young fatherhood could be causing men to die while middle aged, a factor which may be down to stress.

Data on 30,000 men was looked at, covering 20 years of their lives, from 1985 to 2005.

It found that men who became fathers before they were 22 had a 26% increased risk of dying early.

Men aged between 22 and 24 when fathering their first child were at a 14% higher risk of premature death.

On the other hand, men who became dads between the ages of 30 and 44 had a comparable lower risk of death in middle age of 25%.

When checked for differences in terms of marital status, upbringing, education and location, there was no difference in the risks.

This indicates that the factor affecting the earlier deaths is the age at which they become fathers.

One hypothesis for this is the stress that fatherhood can bring, and the pressure of supporting a family financially and emotionally, and the national support system which is skewed in favour of mothers when it comes to psychological support for parents.

If this is true, then it means that fathers could be shortening their lives by having a lack of support and poorer stress management.

This can be improved by learning better techniques to manage stress, such as mindfulness.

However, one professor, Kevin McConway, has warned against leaping to conclusions. The study did not find the exact link between stress induced by early fatherhood and a higher risk of premature death.

The men observed were all from Finland , and were born a long time ago. “We just don’t know whether the findings would be the same for young men – nowadays, in Finland or anywhere else,” said McConway.

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