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A Mother's Love Overcomes Poverty's Effect on Health
Date:5/18/2010

Caring moms seem to boost child's immune response throughout life, study finds

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- A mother's love can make scrapes feel better and soothe hurt feelings. Now, new research shows that a warm, caring mother can also shield against the ill health effects of growing up poor -- protection that can last well into adulthood.

Studies have shown that being poor is associated with a higher risk for heart disease and other mental and physical illnesses throughout the life span. It's believed that the stress and deprivation of low socioeconomic status causes the immune system to go into overdrive, activating genes and releasing proteins that can cause inflammation throughout the body.

Inflammation is implicated in many diseases, including asthma, depression and cardiovascular disease, according to background information in the study.

However, the new study shows that having a caring mom can halt some of those pro-inflammatory processes.

In the study, researchers analyzed key aspects of the immune systems of 53 people, ages 25 to 40, who were raised in poor families during the first five years of life. Participants were also asked about their relationships with their mothers based on a standard measurement called the Parent Bonding Inventory. That information was also corroborated by information from the mothers.

Researchers then isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, a component of the immune system.

The 26 adults who described their mothers as warm and loving had lower gene expression in genes that promote inflammation than those with more distant moms.

Those with warm moms also secreted less interleukin 6, a protein also linked to inflammation.

"It's really remarkable that, 30 years later, you can see these kinds of signals in their gene expression and immune response that can be related back to socioeconomic status and maternal life in
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