Having Boys Can Take Months Off A Mother’s Life, Study Claims

So, it turns out that when you fall to your knees and cry out to sweet baby Jesus to be a fence before your little rambunctious, bad butt little boys kill you dead, you may be on to something: new research shows that having sons can shave an average of eight and a half months off a mother’s life.

Apparently, dads have absolutely nothing to worry about. *insert side-eye here*

The study, published this week in the journal Biology Letters, looked at the post-childbirth survival rates of more than 11,000 moms and some 6,000 dads in pre-industrial Finland, during the 17th to 20th centuries—a period when this mostly agricultural group didn’t have access to medical care or birth control. What they found: a mother who bore six sons would live an average 32.4 years after the birth of her youngest son, while a mother who had girls lived 33.1 years after her youngest daughter was born. No matter a mom’s social or financial status, the shorter life expectancy was the same, researchers said.

Evolutionary ecologist Dr. Samuli Helle of the University of Turku in Finland and Dr. Virpi Lummaa of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom said in the study that there’s a bunch of different reasons why having boys takes moms out more quickly than having girls: traditionally, girls helped moms shoulder household responsibilities, which could have increased a mom’s life span slightly, plus, biologically, male babies are bigger than female babies, which may have meant that they required more nutrients from the mom’s body during gestation.

Dads weren’t affected, probably because reproduction takes WAY less of a toll on their bodies than it does a mother’s.

But rest easy modern moms of boys: Helle and Lummaa point out that life these days is way different from that experienced by moms in the study, a vast majority who were born before the early 1900s. Today’s families are smaller, eat better and have better medical care and access to birth control, so women are far healthier now than they used to be, the researchers said. Plus, the study shows a link between having sons and dying earlier, but doesn’t necessarily prove that one causes the other.

Let the record show that long after we’re gone from here, researchers will come along and find that having girls, not boys, takes months off a mother’s life. Come on—the self-esteem issues? The attitudes? The flat-out refusal to help around the house unless you threaten them to within an inch of their lives? I think I’ve lost YEARS already. And don’t get me started on being a black mom in America. Every last one of us has one foot in the grave dealing with the madness that comes with that one. *buries had back under the covers* Deep, deep sigh.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. I have two boys, 5 and 2. I feel like if I can just get the youngest past the age of 3 when his head is too big for his body and he seems to have no control over his limbs, we might make it. Young boys are a danger to themselves and others, seriously. The jumping.off.of.everything is ridiculous, and just the physicality of their nature is crazy. I had 2 sisters growing up, so raising boys had been an eye-opening experience for me. The 5yr old seems to be a bit less accident-prone now, so I have hope once we get this 2yr old to 5, it will be a little more smooth sailing.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Allysa. I have a three year old son and it’s not a normal day if he isn’t doing something totally death-defying. Every morning I pray over him while he’s sleeping (you laugh but it’s true) that God will watch over him because I need all the help I can get raising this child to manhood! My child has more scrapes, bumps, goose eggs than any one child should be allowed to have. It’s completely ridiculous! Lucky for him, he’s so darn cute. Thanks for the great post!

  3. I relate with Portia and Allysa! I have two boys, ages 4 & 5 who seem to be doped up off Monster and Red Bull drinks DAILY (lol)! I am usually so exhausted from just watching them play and trying to keep them somewhat calm. Thank God we’ve managed to keep them from rough housing and performing too many death-defying acts, but it really is a lot. Now, I have been told (by wiser, older women) that it is MUCH easier raising boys; for moms, that is-And that my husband will be the one graying early b/c they are going to test his limits & patience more often (ya, know the whole “manhood” thing), So I guess I’ll have to take a wait and see approach!

  4. I have 2 girls and 1 boy and I can easily agree with this. That boy of mine has made me catch my breath and clutch my chest way more than the girls have. They are just fearless and daring. Of course fathers can relate because they are of the same species. But Lord knows he is the love of my life even if he does shave some time off of it 🙂

  5. Perhaps I should put my head under the covers too. I have three boys ages 19 to 8 … and 1 husband. BIG OLE SIGH!

  6. Being a Mother is really a big role. I sure my mother also had lot of headaches because of me. I love you mom!

    Mothers Day Blog

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