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Study discovers health disadvantages of firstborn
For a long time it was claimed that the oldest children are often the darlings of the parents and also have some health benefits over their younger siblings. However, researchers have now found that the oldest children apparently also have health disadvantages. You seem to be the victim of problems like overweight and high blood pressure more often.
Scientists at the University of Texas found in an investigation that the oldest children are increasingly developing health problems. For example, firstborns suffer more from high blood pressure and increased obesity. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Economics and Human Biology".
Study includes data from nearly 400,000 people
The current study was based on the health records of almost 400,000 people from Norway over a period of around 25 years. Overall, it was observed that the oldest children were more likely to have problems with blood pressure and obesity compared to their younger siblings. This was noticed when comparing physical markers such as blood pressure, triglycerides and weight, the authors explain.
Order of birth affects risk of high blood pressure
The siblings' likelihood of suffering from high blood pressure decreased with the order of birth, the experts explain. The biggest gap was between the first-born and the second-born child, who had a three percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure.
Firstborns have a four percent increased risk of becoming overweight
In addition, the levels of so-called triglycerides (a form of dietary fat that is produced by the liver) were higher in older children. In addition, the likelihood of being overweight was increased by four percent, the doctors say. Firstborns were also two percent more likely to suffer from obesity.
Do Firstborns Save More Fat?
On average, firstborns are easier to give birth than their siblings, and the experts examined whether a lower nutrient flow to the firstborns in the uterus might influence their regulation of fat. This could lead them to store more fats in adulthood, the researchers suspect.
Higher tendency for high blood pressure in firstborn
Catching up on growth in firstborns could also lead to higher blood pressure, the scientists explain. In their study, the authors explained that the greater likelihood of high blood pressure and obesity for first-born babies was largely biologically determined.
More research is needed
The researchers also took into account the fact that older children are mostly breastfed for an average of two additional weeks. This could be a factor in the differences in sibling health. However, further research is now needed to better understand the possible effects, the scientists say.
Firstborns generally have better mental health
Although it was found that firstborns had generally better mental health than their siblings, the children's personality could also be a potential explanation for the differences in weight and blood pressure, the researchers explain.
Does Personality Affect the Risk of Hypertension in Firstborn?
While empirical evidence is not particularly strong, there is an established set of theories about birth order and personality. Firstborns are often perceived as more energetic and career-oriented, while later births are seen as more relaxed and creative, the scientists say. This could provide a number of possible explanations for the findings found about blood pressure or hypertension and triglycerides. For example, experts stress that the stress that leads to high blood pressure could be caused by the more competitive personality types. (as)