Love kids, live longer

Published: Thursday 15 October 1998

Infants - of humans as well as other species - need an unusually large amount of time and nurturing for their development. Some scientists believe that this may as well be one the reasons for the longevity of women, who are the primary 'care-givers'. Now, scientists have confirmed that it is child care that enhances female longevity. Neurologist John Allman and his team from California Institute of Technology, USA, found that in primates like gorillas and chimps, for instance, the females who take care of the babies, outlive their male counterparts by as much as 41 per cent. In the case of Titi monkeys where males are the care-givers, they outlive females by about 20 per cent. While researchers say that it is the hormones that may help female longevity, they are not very clear about the males. One suggestion from the experts is that perhaps aggression may be the chief cause - child-tending males become softer and more docile (The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences C/SA,Vol95,Nol2).

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