|The effect of bearing and rearing a child on blood pressure: a nationally representative instrumental variable analysis of 444?611 mothers in India|
||Felix Teufel, Pascal Geldsetzer, Nikkil Sudharsanan, Malavika Subramanyam, H. Manisha Yapa, Jan-Walter De Neve, Sebastian Vollmer, AND Till Bärnighausen
||International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 50, Issue 5, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyab058
At the individual level, it is well known that pregnancies have a short-term effect on a woman’s cardiovascular system and blood pressure. The long-term effect of having children on maternal blood pressure, however, is unknown. We thus estimated the causal effect of having children on blood pressure among mothers in India, a country with a history of high fertility rates.
We used nationally representative cross-sectional data from the 2015–16 India National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-4). The study population comprised 444?611 mothers aged 15–49?years. We used the sex of the first-born child as an instrumental variable (IV) for the total number of a woman’s children. We estimated the effect of an additional child on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in IV (two-stage least squares) regressions. In additional analyses, we stratified the IV regressions by time since a mother last gave birth. Furthermore, we repeated our analyses using mothers' husbands and partners as the regression sample.
On average, mothers had 2.7 children [standard deviation (SD): 1.5], a systolic blood pressure of 116.4?mmHg (SD: 14.4) and diastolic blood pressure of 78.5?mmHg (SD: 9.4). One in seven mothers was hypertensive. In conventional ordinary least squares regression, each child was associated with 0.42?mmHg lower systolic [95% confidence interval (CI): –0.46 to –0.39, P?0.001] and 0.13?mmHg lower diastolic (95% CI: –0.15 to –0.11, P?0.001) blood pressure. In the IV regressions, each child decreased a mother’s systolic blood pressure by an average of 1.00?mmHg (95% CI: –1.26 to –0.74, P?0.001) and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 0.35?mmHg (95% CI: –0.52 to –0.17, P?0.001). These decreases were sustained over more than a decade after childbirth, with effect sizes slightly declining as the time since last birth increased. Having children did not influence blood pressure in men.
Bearing and rearing a child decreases blood pressure among mothers in India.