In recent years Cots estimates have been running well ahead of inflation. While still eye-wateringly high, it lacks the contraceptive impact of those quarter-of-a-million-pounds scare stories. I say scare stories advisedly. Because all these studies usually ignore the way costs fall as family size rises. There are economies of scale to offspring. It will set you back the same to run a bath for one child as it does for three.
Children share heat and light, bedrooms and toys. Clothes are handed down. Sibling discounts can be modest hotel rooms , or worth thousands private school fees. An older brother or sister can actually make childhood cheaper, by babysitting in loco parentis or reducing the need for a play-date or expensive excursion. That assertion is the product of five years of work, much of it with Swedish researcher Therese Wallin. We found strong and, at times, compelling evidence, that belonging to a multi-child family has benefits. On obesity, there is a mountain of literature showing that siblings help increase energy expenditure they run around a lot and robust circumstantial proof that "sibship" - having a brother or sister or multiples thereof - reduces calorific intake an only child may eat more simply by dint of sitting down to eat with adults who dole out bigger portions.
Obviously the world is full of skinny only children and my new book deals, I am not ashamed to say, in massive generalisations. There are many exceptions, but "sibling science" does a good job of making all other things equal by controlling for things like socio-economic background. On mental health, the findings are not the stuff of rocket science, but they do demolish the relativistic idea that there is no difference in outcomes for a child who does or does not have a sibling. There are, sometimes, advantages to a sibling-free childhood, but dealing with family crises - such as parental divorce or death - without a brother or sister, is not among them.
And on allergies the research is more emphatic still. If you grow up with a sibling you stand a better chance of avoiding eczema-urticaria, hay fever and, quite possibly, asthma. Auto-immune disorders are strongly inversely-related to sibship. Studies have shown that siblinghood has a little-understood deterrent effect against conditions as varied as multiple sclerosis and Crohn's Disease.
The most likely explanation is the Hygiene Hypothesis, which posits that our body's defences are primed by early exposure to germs, of which siblings provide highly efficient carriers. A sibling, of course, is for life not just for childhood. The policy debate about eldercare, and its colossal mounting cost, does not recognise the importance of siblings. Older sisters, in particular, save the country millions.
Looking after an elderly parent is easier if the role is shared between siblings. Less obviously, declining sibship may have a huge societal impact far beyond the usual demographic extrapolations. This is because of the pecking order - the codification of character according to where a child arrives in the family. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Robert Fisk. Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter. John Rentoul.
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Heartwarming news stories from around the world Show all A boy who saved the life of a suicidal man by simply asking him "Are you okay? Jamie Harrington, from Ballymun, Dublin, told the Humans of Dublin project about a meeting with a man in his 30s sitting on the edge of a bridge and about to jump off it.
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After sitting down and speaking to the stranger for 45 minutes, year-old Jamie persuaded the man to go to hospital and seek treatment. A good book can keep a child entertained for hours, but there aren't many that can actually make babies cry when they end. That's exactly what happened to one little boy, who looks completely engrossed while his mother reads him the book 'I Am a Bunny', a classic children's book about the pattern of the seasons.
However, when the story ends and his mother closes the book, he immediately begins crying. The only thing that seems to placate him is opening the book at the beginning and reading the story again. It's heartening to see such a little child so completely in love with a book, but it must get a little wearing for his parents after a while.
A young woman has brought attention to the invisibility of depression - by getting a tattoo which sends out two opposing messages depending on how you look at it. The tattoo on her leg appears to say "I'm fine" when read by someone looking at her, but reveals its true secret to its wearer when she looks down at it, reading "Save me" instead. Bekah Miles, a year-old US student who has struggled with depression for some years, got the inking on her leg to start a conversation about mental health and give voice to her experience. A teenager has earned herself an army of fans after she finally reached her goal to help her severely autistic twin brother across the stage at their high school graduation.
Anders Bonville, 18, from Birmingham, Alabama, was diagnosed with autism when he was two, which left him non-verbal but — along with his sister, Aly — the pair developed their own unique language and set out to alter perceptions of the condition. Aly was called first on-stage to receive her diploma. With her brother being walked quietly behind a curtained area in his wheelchair to keep him calm, she quickly exited to get him before his name was called out.
Aly zoomed down the hallway with her brother in his wheelchair so that he would be happy when the big moment came. A man has completed 42 back-to-back marathons — while dressed as Forrest Gump.
Ewan Gordon, 42, from Oxfordshire, copied the popular film character by growing out his hair and beard to complete the 1,mile challenge in memory of nine-year-old Thomas Laurie who died last year. Thomas suffered from Cockayne Syndrome — a rare premature ageing disease — which is known to affect just youngsters in the UK. He said he was inspired to adopt the quirky persona following a bet when a friend said he would sponsor Mr Gordon more money for his charity run if he did.
The stunning vintage gown has a lace bodice and sleeves and full embroidered skirt. Happy years. I was a lucky man to marry a lady like mine". One new initiative, where donors are sent automatic text messages telling them when their blood has actually been used, has caught the public eye. When Figo the service dog saw an oncoming mini school bus heading for Audrey Stone, the blind woman he was trained to guide, the golden retriever's protective instincts kicked in: He threw himself at the closest part of the vehicle he could. Police photos show the result: fur stuck to the front driver's side wheel and in the middle of Michael Neuner Avenue in New York, where the bus came to a stop after striking the pair.
The driver of the Brewster school bus, carrying two kindergartners to St.
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Lawrence O'Toole Childhood Learning Center, told police he didn't see the pair crossing the road as they made their way home at about Monday morning. But Figo saw the bus coming and leapt into action. After more than two years growing his hair, a boy from Florida has donated his locks to charity, despite being bullied along the way. Christian McPhilamy, an eight-year-old from Florida, began growing his hair after seeing an advert about paediatric cancer and has now donated four locks, each measuring over 10 inches, to charity. When Mrs Allen refused to do so, he took matters into his own hands and challenged the woman himself.
Before she was put down on 5 May, Coco: visited a beach; took a ride in a helicopter; went in a fire engine; ate a steak at the pub; and also had a Big Mac from a McDonalds Drive Thru, amongst other activities. An elderly cancer patient who called because he was hungry and had no food is receiving donations from hundreds of people across America who were moved by his story. Clarence Blackmon was discharged from a private hospital in Fayetteville, in North Carolina, on Tuesday after spending months there for cancer treatment.
The year-old returned to his house without any supplies and anyone close by to call for help, leading him to call in desperation and ask for food.
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An hour-and-a-half later, Marilyn Hinson, the operator who answered that call, arrived at his front door with police carrying bags full of food and made him some ham sandwiches. A son has revealed how he only just received a birthday card from his dad who died from cancer over a decade ago, with the father having the foresight to mark his children's milestone birthdays before passing away.
It was inscribed with a simple 'Love ya - Dad', and was written such a long time ago that even the corny joke on the inside feels quite charmingly dated. The story of year-old Xie Xu, who volunteered to look after his year-old classmate Zhang Chi, has been shared widely on Chinese social media and received widespread local media coverage. A young man from Horwich in Greater Manchester has become an unexpected internet sensation after he was photographed walking a frail old man home from the supermarket. Marie Suprenant is not able to walk as a result of the injuries that she sustained before she was taken under the care of a foster parent.
Stacey Eden claimed an older woman was accusing the unidentified Muslim woman and the man sat next to her of being an Isis supporter because she was wearing a hijab. Ms Eden, from Sydney, said the alleged tirade began "a good ten minutes" before she started filming the woman, later uploading the video on to her Facebook page. Footage from the alleged incident began as the unnamed passenger asked the woman, who was also sat with a pram on the opposite side of the train, "why do you wear it [a hijab] for a man that marries a six year-old girl?