Having a lot of kids could literally make you lose your mind, say researchers at Columbia University.
Raising three or more children may promote the onset of cognitive decline, or dementia, later in life, according to the new study from Columbia’s Aging Center/Mailman School of Public Health and the University of Paris-Dauphne.
The researchers found that having three or more children compared to having two children had a “negative effect on cognition late in life” — the equivalent of 6.2 years of age.
According to the study, the additional children cause significantly more financial costs for their parents, thus reducing the family’s income and standard of living, which in turn leads to worries and insecurities that can contribute to cognitive decline.
The additional children also dampen the labor market participation of women. Professional work improves the cognitive function of both men and women, the study says.
On the positive side, having more children reduces their parents’ risk of social isolation, a situation that may protect against cognitive decline, the researchers said.
The study, published in the journal Demography, analyzed cognitive decline in older parents across Europe who have raised three or more children compared to those who have raised two. The worst outcomes for cognitive loss occurred in the northern European countries of Denmark and Sweden.
“The results show that having three or more children has negative effects compared to having two
knowledge in late life. This effect is strongest in northern Europe, perhaps because it is higher
Fertility decreases financial resources but does not improve social resources
Region,” wrote study authors Eric Bonsang of Dauphine and Legard Skirbett of Columbia.
Most previous studies looked at a person’s education or occupation or genetics to explain their acceleration in dementia — not the number of children they raised, the authors noted.
However, other cognition experts reacted to the study with a degree of skepticism.
“It’s a very provocative study. It’s an interesting study. You have to interpret it with caution,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital/Northwell Health and director of Park Avenue Neurology, told The Post on Friday.
She said the study largely focuses on European countries, excluding, for example, more communal and village societies in Asia and Africa, where older people may be less isolated.
“It’s more about engaging the brain. Kids might have nothing to do with it,” she said.
The analysis examined the cognitive abilities of 73,353 participants from across Europe with at least two children.
Among the cognitive measures studied: immediate and delayed word recall to determine recall of personal experiences; verbal fluency; math skills and other brain challenges.
The researchers also asked about the frequency of contact older parents had with their children per month to determine social interactions, and calculated wealth by measuring household net worth, pension and other income.
“The negative effect of having three or more children versus two children is large, equivalent to 6.2 years of age in our sample, and almost equal to the cognitive advantage associated with completing secondary school over elementary school,” said the authors.
The study theorized why Nordic people who have raised three or more children would suffer more from cognitive decline.
The Nordic countries have higher living standards, but also higher costs for goods and services, which could be three times higher than in other parts of Europe, the study says.
Also, unlike in other parts of Europe where the culture expects to take care of aging parents, in the Nordic countries institutions are expected to provide support.
“Having three or more children compared to having two children is associated with more exposure to children in eastern, western and especially southern Europe, but not in northern Europe,” the study states.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/13/having-3-or-more-kids-could-make-you-literally-lose-your-mind-study/ When you have 3 or more children you can literally lose your mind: learning