-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SATURDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Poor children are more
likely to become unhealthy adults -- vulnerable to infection and
disease -- than kids from higher-income families, according to a
However, the study findings revealed, some disadvantaged
children grow up into healthy adults. Their secret: a nurturing and
Upward mobility also has been cited as a reason that children
from low-income families become healthy adults, the study pointed
out. Yet the researchers found that income in adulthood didn't
offset childhood poverty.
"But those greater risks later in life seem to be offset if the mom paid careful attention to the children's emotional well-being, had time for them and showed affection and caring," Gregory Miller, lead study author and psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Canada, said in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science.
For the study, clinicians performed physical examinations on
roughly 1,200 adults and researchers rated their socioeconomic
status based on level of education. The investigators also surveyed
the participants to determine how well their parents nurtured them
The study, scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of
Psychological Science, found that the more wealth a child's family had, the better the individual's health was in adulthood.
Children whose parents did not graduate from high school were
1.4 times more likely to develop the metabolic syndrome (a set of
risk factors linked to heart disease, diabetes and other health
problems) than those raised by college graduates. But children with
nurturing mothers were the exception.
The authors suggest that reducing and managing stress throughout
childhood and later in life is what makes the difference.
"There is a lot of evidence that nurturant moms" -- or possibly other adults -- "can help buffer vulnerable kids from all sorts of negative outcomes," Miller stated in the news release.
Previous research has found that stress endured by disadvantaged
children permanently affects their physiological development,
making them more vulnerable to disease, the study authors noted in
the news release. These children are more likely to have a cluster
of symptoms -- including high blood pressure and abdominal fat --
that put them at risk for the metabolic syndrome.
Miller concluded that parents can help their children become
healthy adults by teaching them how to cope with stress effectively
and by being a good example of appropriate emotional responses.
"We can do lots to help kids get through tough times," Miller said.
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development has more about
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