1,717 Children To One Man! How Many Children Can You Have In A Lifetime?

by Vrinda Jain
1,717 Children To One Man! How Many Children Can You Have In A Lifetime?

January 26, 2021

We know that giving birth is a difficult process. But what is the limit to this process?

Assume that you have thousands of children with whom you could run your small town. That’s what the family of Moulay Ismail was like. He was a brutal emperor of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty from 1672 to 1727. And it is reported that he had at least 1,171 children!

But he’s not the only one who had sex with hundreds of women. Other rulers, such as Augustus the Strong and Genghis Khan, had several wives and hundreds of women in their harem as well. Even though these were some of the most ruthless rulers of their time, it raises a more fundamental, scientific question. How many children can a human being have?

Some consider it a legend, others believe it to be truth, and now the speculation can end after scientists have reportedly proven that it is indeed possible that Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail was the biological father of over 1,000 children.

The limit for women

Childbirth is one of the most demanding and challenging stages in a woman’s life that can cause both mental and physical changes. On an average, girls usually begin menstruating at the age of 13, and this lasts until they reach the age of 51, which gives 38 years of reproductive activity. However, considering that any delivery takes nine months, a cap of around 40 pregnancies seems possible. These are only mathematically viable pregnancies and might not be safe.

For one thing, this means that the woman does not have time to heal or make up for the lack of iron and folic acid after childbirth. What lacks in this equation is the trauma to which a body is subjected every time you have a child. Multiple pregnancies can be life-threatening, and with any pregnancy, the mother’s risk of dying rises. After the first pregnancy, the risk of premature birth means that the child’s organs are not fully developed, leading to physical disabilities. Physicians claim that after five vaginal deliveries or even three C-sections, the woman’s body becomes fragile.

Not only that, researchers at Columbia University found that when a woman has given birth more than five times, there is an increased chance of haemorrhage. This is a situation in which, due to multiple births, the woman’s womb becomes inelastic, and her muscle fibres have become weak. 

WHO reports that pregnancy and birthing are among the leading causes of death for women in developing countries such as India. And with the Indian population eventually, to reach the 1.7 billion mark by 2050, it is not just a massive burden on a woman but also on resources and the state’s ability to provide necessities.

Feodor Vassilyev was a peasant from Shuya, Russia. His first wife was Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev. Valentina is claimed to have lived to be 75, and between 1725 and 1765, have had 69 children; 67 of them survived infancy with the loss of one set of twins: the record for most children born to a single woman.Note: This is not a confirmed photo of the Vassilyev family and is for illustration purposes only

The limit for men

Counting the best outcomes, a study calculated that in even the most “prolific” fathers today can have up to about 200 children in their lifetime. However, multiple health issues and other factors can lead to fertility problems. The sperm of a man becomes less responsive and more abnormal as he grows older. That ultimately reduces his probability of having children later in life. Studies show that men over 50 have up to a 38% lower risk of impregnating a woman than men under 30.

A study published in the journal Maturitas examined 40 years of research on parental age’s impact on fertility, pregnancy and children’s health. It found that men aged 45 and older may experience decreased fertility. This can also put their partners at risk of increased pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth.

Infants born to older fathers were at a higher risk of premature birth, low Apgar ratings, low birth weight, higher frequency of infant seizures and congenital disabilities such as congenital heart defects.

The family of Joseph F. Smith, one of the presidents of the LDS Church. He was married 6 times and became the father of 45 biological and 5 adopted children.

Some extraordinary cases!

In the beginning, we learned that Moulay Ismail had 1,717 children while, Augustus the Strong, who had a long-distance relationship with his wife, fathered 350 children with his mistresses. And Genghis Khan, famous for colonizing vast regions of the 13th century Asia, is estimated to have had between 1,000 and 2,000 children. Scientists estimate that up to 16 million men now living in the regions that Khan conquered could be descendants of him or his close male relatives. Experts calculated this number by tracking Y chromosomes in the area.

According to Guinness World Records Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev in 19th century Russia was the most prolific mother ever. She’s said to have given birth to 69 children over 27 pregnancies. 


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