Having more children can raise risk of heart attack for women
The more children a woman has, the greater her risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure, research has shown.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge found having five or more children is associated with a 40pc increased risk of a serious heart attack in the next 30 years, compared with having just one or two children.
Having five or more children was also associated with a 30pc increased risk of heart disease - the major cause of heart attacks - as well as a 25pc increased risk of stroke and a 17pc increase in the risk of heart failure compared with one or two children.
Having three or four children was also associated with a modest increased risk of serious health implications, but the research found that the most significant risk increases were seen with five or more children.
The findings also suggest that the link between heart health and having children is independent of breastfeeding.
The study, which is being presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester, saw the team study data from more than 8,000 women from the US aged 45 to 64. The University of North Carolina was also involved.
They found women who had a history of pregnancy loss but no children had a 60pc increased risk of heart disease and a 45pc increased risk of heart failure in the following 30 years, compared with women who had one or two live births.
They said this was likely to reflect underlying health problems that increase the risk of pregnancy loss as well as heart disease and heart failure.
Previous research has been inconclusive on the relationship between heart health and the number of children a woman has given birth to, with few examining multiple outcomes such as heart disease and heart attacks.
Dr Clare Oliver-Williams, who led the research at the University of Cambridge, said: "The aim of my research is not to scare women but to bring to their attention as early as possible whether they might be at increased risk of heart attacks. We know that pregnancy and childbirth put a tremendous strain on the heart, and raising children can be very stressful, too."