Feeling clucky? It might be because motherhood is contagious, researchers claim.

A study has found that women are more likely to have a baby after they discover friends from high school have become mothers.

Dubbed childhood contagion, the researchers say it is a real trend among female high school friends during early adulthood.

"The contagion is particularly strong within a short window of time: it increases immediately after a high school friend gives birth, reaches a peak about two years later, and then decreases, becoming negligible in the long-run," said study co-author Nicoletta Balbo, a postdoctoral fellow at Bocconi University, Italy.


"Overall, this research demonstrates that fertility decisions are not only influenced by individual characteristics and preferences, but also by the social network in which individuals are embedded.

"In addition, it shows that high school friends impact our lives well after graduation.

"We know that friends influence each other on many behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, and how much we exercise."

The study tracked more than 1,700 American women from when they were at least 15-years-old through approximately age 30.

The researchers looked only at the impact of female high school friends on the birth of first children and their findings only held true for planned pregnancies.

The average age for a woman in the study to have her first child was 27.

Giving possible reasons for motherhood being contagious, the researchers suggest:
"First, people compare themselves to their friends," said Ms Balbo.

"Being surrounded by friends who are new parents makes people feel pressure to have kids as well."


Secondly, she suggests friends are an important learning source for how to be a mother.

Lastly, having children at the same time as friends means experiences can be shared - reducing the stresses associated with pregnancy and childrearing.

"It's also easier for people to remain friends when they are experiencing parenthood at the same time," added Balbo.

The study, which appears in the American Sociological Review, relies on data from the US.

- Daily Mail