Contrary to common opinion, which holds that raising boys is simpler, US research suggests that having sons may impair our mental capacity.
According to a research of more than 13,000 over-50s conducted in the US, parents who had at least one son aged cognitively more quickly than those who did not.
With each new boy the family had, the effect grew greater. The cause of the effect was not looked into by the researchers.It may be because daughters are more likely to take care of parents later in life, keeping them healthier as they age, according to study author Katrin Wolfova and her team.
Adopting a son didn’t help reverse the trend either; results, which were published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, took into consideration all children that participants had, regardless of whether they were biological, adopted, or stepchildren.
The researchers, from Columbia University in New York and Charles University in Prague, collected information from the ongoing study, which is keeping tabs on more than 30,000 people over 50 and their spouses.
The new study was open to 13,222 parents who were tracked for roughly 14 years. They disclosed the number and gender of their children.
Additionally, parents regularly underwent cognitive exams that evaluated their mental faculties, including memory, focus, thinking, and comprehending. These included recalling a list of ten words, counting backwards from one hundred in sevens, and memorizing ten consecutive digits.
There were 10,872 participants in total, 4,862 of whom had one son, 3,523 had two, and 2,487 had three or more.
891 had one daughter, 905 had two girls, and 554 had three or more daughters among those without males.
The findings, which were reported in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, demonstrate that parents with at least one son experienced a higher rate of cognitive aging than parents without sons.
Research link: Sons and parental cognition in mid-life and older adulthood
Both mothers and fathers experienced a similar rate of mental decline. In addition, their data showed that, compared to parents of just daughters, parents of several males saw a faster decline in their mental faculties. Given that both moms and dads saw the same result, the researchers speculated that there may be a connection between parenting sons and cognitive aging.
However, they made the argument that parents of sons may be more likely to suffer disadvantages later in life since daughters offer more social support than sons and are more likely to take on informal childcare responsibilities.
The findings show effects are social rather than biological, according to Researcher Wolfova, who noted that they saw comparable patterns in both moms and fathers.