An extra dose of motherly nurturing insulates children from lifelong health problems associated with poverty, a new study says.
The study found that people whose parents did not finish high school were 1.4 times more likely to develop a condition called metabolic syndrome by middle age than children raised by college-educated parents. Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to diabetes and heart disease.
However, among people from less-educated households, those who said they had a very nurturing mother were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, according to the study published Friday (Sept. 23) in the journal Psychological Science. A nurturing mother in a more educated household had no effect on the likelihood that her adult children had developed metabolic syndrome.
Parents’ education can be a more reliable indicator of a child’s home life than family income, said Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Families may fall into low income because of unlucky circumstances such as illness, but still have some of the protective benefits education seems to bring to households.
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