Ever noticed how often friends have babies around the same time? Well, researchers have too. And before you file this under, “seriously, they had to pay money to figure that out?” – after all, friends tend to be about the same age and therefore follow similar life patterns – scientists believe there may be more to it than that.
Women are more likely to have a child in the two years after their high school friends have their first baby, a new study published in the American Sociological Review has found. But the reasons pregnancy is “contagious” are unclear. Researchers say even taking into account peer pressure and similar life circumstances, there seems to be more to the phenomenon.
Study co-author and sociologist Nicoletta Balbo tells Live Science long-term friendships have a big influence on the decision to have a child. Women in the study were more likely to have had a baby around the same time as a high school friend as long as they were still in touch. Tellingly, the link was much weaker between former classmates who were no longer friends.
While the reasons are unclear, it may be partly due to getting clucky around other people’s babies and seeing friends happy with children, Ms Balbo tells Live Science. She says there may also be practical and social reasons for having kids around the same time – for example, being able to borrow clothes and gear, and not having to make new friends to match a new life stage.
Researchers will now delve deeper to find out whether the baby bug really is catching.
I must say one of my favourite things about motherhood is sharing it with some of my best and oldest friends. Did you and your friends have children around the same time? Tell us below.
(via Live Science)