Single fathers more likely to die early

Single fathers more likely to die early

An 11-year study of more than 40,000 people in Canada found single fathers were almost three times more likely to die prematurely compared to single mothers and partnered parents.

After tracking more than 40,000 parents in Canada for 11 years, the study published on "The Lancet Public Health" found that a single father's risk of death was more than twice as high as other parents, Time Magazine reported.

For example, they ate fewer fruit and vegetables, and were more likely to binge drink than single mothers and partnered parents.

Solo fathers tended to be older, had higher cancer rates, and were more prone to heart disease.

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Maria Chiu, Ph.D., from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, and colleagues used data from a representative sample of 871 single fathers, 4,590 single mothers, 16,341 partnered fathers, and 18,688 partnered mothers from the Canadian Community Health Survey (earliest survey date: September 5, 2000; latest survey date: December 24, 2012). "We found that single fathers had a threefold higher mortality compared to single moms and partnered dads, and a five-fold higher mortality compared to partnered moms".

"Of the world's 2.3 billion children, 14 per cent - or 320 million - are living in a single parent household", the report showed. The proportion in the U.K.is similar, with an estimated 10% of all single parent homes being overseen by a father. The average age was between 41 and 46, and the sample group included 871 single fathers, 4,590 single mothers, 16,341 dads and 18,688 mothers with a spouse or partner.

Participants were followed for a median of 11.10 years. Single fathers were also more likely than partnered fathers to have had an emergency medical visit or hospital admission in the past year.

The researchers suggested that it's possible that the fathers' lack of access to social networks, social assistance and child support may have an influence on their health.

However, the study did find that single fathers were more likely to engage with the health service than partnered fathers, which could offer an opportunity for doctors to intervene.

Having experienced a breakup is another risk factor for mental ill health, the researchers said.

While more research is needed to understand the causes of death behind the increased mortality in single fathers, doctors should invest more time into this vulnerable group of men, said Dr Chiu.

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