Good parental relationships 'have long-lasting health benefits for children'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A new study has underlined the importance of good parental relationships in protecting the long-term health of children.

The Baylor University study analysed data on disease or poor health of middle-aged adults, surveying 2,746 respondents aged 25 to 75 years about their childhood treatment by parents, before following them up around ten years later.

“Good relationships with parents can have positive benefits on children's health that last for decades, according to a new study.“

It was shown that growing up in an economically well-off home can benefit a child's physical health decades later, but this positive impact can be negated by a lack of parent-child warmth or the presence of abuse.

This is because poor parent-child relations can result in meals being less coordinated among the family, with children becoming more likely to eat sugary or high-fat foods, while sleep and activity routines can also become irregular.

Dr Matthew Andersson, assistant professor of sociology at Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences, said: "The key takeaway is that without adequate parent-child relationship quality to match, socioeconomic advantage during childhood may not offer much protection at all against major chronic disease as children become adults and reach middle age."

However, it was also shown that good parent-child bonds in economically disadvantaged homes do promote health, but not enough to lessen the negative impact of their low socioeconomic status.

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