Science Says Pregnancy Is Contagious Among Friends!

December 28, 2017
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Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, there’s no doubt about it. Even if pregnancy doesn’t really agree with you or you had a hard time during the months of growing a baby, the act of growing a human is something else.

I absolutely loved being pregnant.  I was the first in my friend group to get pregnant and in a couple of years everyone else in my circle started to have their own children, and then it just seemed to pick up after that.

Friends found themselves pregnant at the same time and having their children rather close in age.

It seemed like there was a big baby boom happening!

I always thought it was just the phase of life, however – apparently that’s not all that’s in play.

Pregnancy is “contagious” when it comes to friends in close circles.

Having pregnant people around you can increase your risk of becoming pregnant, too.

So this can be a good or bad thing depending on where you are in life. But there is more in the details…

Researchers analysed data of 1,720 women who participated in the study called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. In the United States from mid-90s to mid-2000s, female participants who were at least 15 years old in 1995 were tracked through home interviews for the following 10 years.

During that 10 years, the researchers saw that nearly half of the women had a child by the time the final interview was conducted in either 2008 or 2009.

And during those interviews, researchers found out that the women had up to 10 “friendship ties” which tipped the researchers off that there might be a pattern among groups of friends as they got older.

Researchers looked specifically on the pairs that had high school friends through later years and found that yeah, that group of friends has a strong “contagion” for planned pregnancies.

“We found this effect to be short-term and inverse U-shaped: an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing, reaches a peak around two years later, then decrease,” the researchers noted.

Another study done a few years earlier in Germany found a similar pattern happen which showed peers had a larger effect on pregnancy than sibling groups.

The “risk” for a woman to get pregnant increases with every friend that she has who has given birth within the past three years.

So Why Does This Happen?

According to the study, this pattern is what they call the “fertility influence” and the researchers tried to narrow it down exactly what was going on and why this happens.

Social learning: This is the theory that women are more likely to decide on motherhood themselves when they see a close friend do it successfully.

The second: social influence. Ladies don’t want to be “left behind” if their friends are moving on to this phase of their life.

And the third is what the researchers are calling cost-sharing. They say that there are some financial perks between friends if they can coordinate childcare and activities.

Both this study and the one from Germany a few years earlier share that friend groups are better at influencing pregnancy than sibling groups.


Featured Image: What to expect when you’re expecting

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