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Nurturing mothers rear physically healthier adults
Date:1/23/2012

Nurturing mothers have garnered accolades for rescuing skinned knees on the playground and coaxing their children to sleep with lullabies. Now they're gaining merit for their offspring's physical health in middle age.

In a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, Brandeis psychologist Margie Lachman with Gregory Miller and colleagues at the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Los Angeles reveal that while children raised in families with low socioeconomic status (SES) frequently go on to have high rates of chronic illness in adulthood, a sizable minority remain healthy across the life course. The research sought to examine if parental nurturance could mitigate the effects of childhood disadvantage.

Lachman, the Minnie and Harold Fierman Professor of Psychology, and director of the Lifespan Initiative on Healthy Aging, says that her team is working to understand the sources of social disparities in health and what can be done to reduce them. Funded by the National Institute on Aging as part of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, this information will then be used to empower families through education.

"The literature is very clear that people who are low in socioeconomic status have worse health than their same age counterparts," says Lachman, a phenomenon called the social gradient in health. "Modifiable factors play an important role, and we are realizing that things can be done to try to minimize these health disparities."

Clearly money and health care access are part of it, she says, but numerous studies show they play a very small role, as countries with universal health care have the same social gradient.

While they have looked at income in other studies, the team has found that the level of educational attainment is a more reliable indicator of socioeconomic status; people who have a college education do well in many areas, such as physical he
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Contact: Susan Chaityn Leovits
lebovits@brandies.edu
781-736-4027
Brandeis University
Source:Eurekalert

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