Parenting methods can greatly affect the overall health of children. A new research by Northwestern University shows that certain parenting styles can prevent children's risk of inflammatory diseases.
Researchers found that a specific intervention strategy concentrating on building family bonds can have a significant impact in reducing inflammation in low-income children. The teams explain that the results of the study are important because inflammation or chronic over activation of the immune system could lead to various health conditions.
Children from poor backgrounds are often victims of inflammation and bad health throughout their life. For example, children of lower socioeconomic status mostly have lower birth weights, and higher rates of heart problems and cancer.
"Many health problems in both childhood and adulthood involve excessive inflammation," researcher Gregory E. Miller, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, said in a press release. "The process has a role in diabetes, heart disease, allergies and some cancers."
For the research, the team studied families living in small rural areas in Georgia, and noted that 90 percent of the families were from low-income backgrounds.
Approximately 170 families underwent a seven-week training program that looked into improving parenting, enhancing communication between parents and children, and helping children develop strategies for coping with stress, racism and peer pressure.
The team specifically focused on mothers and their 11-year-old children. Blood samples of the children were collected after they turned 19 and it was found that those who participated in the training program had significantly less inflammation than those in the control group. The study revealed lower levels on at least six different indicators of inflammation.
"We also found that the training was most successful in reducing inflammation in families who came from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods," Miller said. "The study is also novel in its focus on families who are at high risk for health problems relative to other Americans."
The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.