Your friends can influence the way you dress, talk, what and where you eat—even your weight. But pregnancy?
Yes; pregnancy—at least according to a study titled, Does Fertility Behavior Spread Among Friends?, which was recently published in the American Sociological Review.
In fact, it pretty much says that pregnancy is contagious, noting that your decision to get pregnant and have a child is influenced by your social networks that go back to your high school days.
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean teen or high school pregnancy. In fact, the study didn’t find any link between high school friends and unintentional pregnancies.
The study actually looked at high school friends who've been friends for 15 years and longer, tracking 1,700 women from ages 15 to approximately 30. In the group of women studied, the age of 27 was the median age for the birth of the first child.
The study concludes, “A friend’s childbearing positively influences an individual’s risk of becoming a parent.” In short, the study pointed towards a trend found in other areas of life: that friends influence their friends’ major life decisions—in this case, when to have a baby.
The mommy-to-be phenomenon may not take hold immediately, but can happen rather quickly, however. The study points out that “an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing” and reaches “a peak around two years later” and then decreases. Co-author of the study, Nicoletta Balbo, says, “The study shows the contagion is particularly strong within a short window of time.”
The outcome is clear: longtime friendship ties are strong, powerful and definite influencers in our lives.
And now, it looks like our friends also have the power—whether known to them or not—over our choice to add to the population through “contagious pregnancy.”
So, is pregnancy really contagious? Well, you can’t get pregnant from drinking the water, but your friends who are having babies sure can help put you on the mommy track.