Having a baby with your guy may result in more than just proud daddy moments—it could help reduce his risk of heart disease.
Another added perk for guys who become dads? According to a study, fathers are less likely to develop serious heart disease than men who've never had kids. It's good news (and a little extra motivation) if you're a couple in the midst of planning for conception. But scientists also say their research raises new questions about a possible link between male infertility and overall health.
In the Stanford University-led study, researchers analyzed a decade's worth of data from about 135,000 male AARP members in their 60s and 70s. At the beginning of the decade, none of the men had ever been diagnosed with heart disease or stroke, and all of them were either married or had been married. Looking at this same group at the end of the 10 years, researchers note that men who had never fathered children were 17 percent more likely to have died of heart disease over the intervening decade than men who were fathers.
"A lot of times when we see men for infertility, they're very young," says Dr. Michael Eisenberg, an assistant professor at Stanford University. "A lot of these men are totally healthy. It's sort of eye-opening to hear there could be something else going on."
That something else could be "impaired testicular function" and lower than normal testosterone levels, thought to both be risk factors for heart disease, researchers speculate. Researchers also admit that they don't know if men in the study actually lived with their children, a key fact that would help scientists determine whether fewer heart problems for dads is biological or there's something about the pitter patter of little feet that keeps men young at heart.
"After all, other studies have shown men who live alone tend to die sooner than men who don't and maybe having kids spurs men to take better care of themselves," says Dr. Eisenberg.