advertisement
Home » News » Parenting » Kids Lower Parents’ Blood Pressure

Kids Lower Parents’ Blood Pressure

Any parent can discuss the trials and tribulations associated with raising children, and most would say that kids elevate stress levels. However, new research suggests raising children can convey a protective health effect.

A new Brigham Young University study found that parenthood is associated with lower blood pressure, particularly so among women.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a BYU psychologist who studies relationships and health, reports her findings in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Of course parenthood is not the only route to low blood pressure – daily exercise and a low-sodium diet also do the trick. The noteworthy aspect of the study is the idea that social factors may also protect physical health.

“While caring for children may include daily hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life’s stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes,” Holt-Lunstad said.

The study involved 198 adults who wore portable blood pressure monitors, mostly concealed by their clothes, for 24 hours.

The monitors took measurements at random intervals throughout the day – even while participants slept. This method provides a better sense of a person’s true day-to-day blood pressure. Readings taken in a lab can be inflated by people who get the jitters in clinical settings.

It’s a real phenomenon known as the “white coat” effect, and it can mess up the results of studies done without the portable monitors.

A statistical analysis allowed the researchers to account for other factors known to influence blood pressure – things like age, body mass, gender, exercise, employment and smoking – and zero in on the effect of parenthood. For parents overall, the 24-hour blood pressure readings averaged 116 / 71.

All other things being equal, parents scored 4.5 points lower than non-parents in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and 3 points lower than non-parents in diastolic blood pressure.

Holt-Lunstad says the size of the difference is statistically significant, but she warns against hastily making major life changes based on this finding alone.

“This doesn’t mean the more kids you have, the better your blood pressure,” Holt-Lunstad said. “The findings are simply tied to parenthood, no matter the number of children or employment status.”

The effect was more pronounced among women, with motherhood corresponding to a 12-point difference in systolic blood pressure and a 7-point difference in diastolic blood pressure.

And if fulfilling relationships make your body feel better, it’s no surprise what stressful relationships can do.

Source: Brigham Young University

Kids Lower Parents’ Blood Pressure

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Kids Lower Parents’ Blood Pressure. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/19/kids-lower-parents-blood-pressure/10823.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.