A new study says that childless couples are more likely to die early than those who have children. Researchers point out that women who don't have children may be at higher risk of dying early than men.

Researchers also found that childless couples who adopt children may have less chances of dying early.

Previous research, based on 98,000 women in Denmark had found that women who remain childless after seeking IVF tend to be at higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders.

The study was based on data obtained from more than 21,000 couples who had taken IVF treatment between 1994 and 2005. Researchers found that women who didn't have children were four times more likely to die early than those who did.

Risk of early death from circulatory disease, cancer, and accidents among childless women was 4 times greater than women who had children, while adoption cut the risk of early death by 50 percent, according to Science Codex.

The study only looked at people who wanted to have children and so results may not be applicable to general population, critics say. In the study group, about 316 people died over an 11 year period.

"This is a very specific situation of people who are trying to have children - the study's findings cannot be used to generalise across the whole general population. People having IVF tend to be desperate for a child, if they are unsuccessful they may be depressed- it may even be this rather than childlessness that is playing a part," said Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist, BBC reported.

Researchers say that the study offers only a co-relation and not causation.

The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.