Warm and Fuzzy Moms Protect Kids Against Future Health Problems

Lots of research suggests that having less money, a less prestigious job, or fewer years of education is bad for health. A person who makes $30,000 a year will be more likely to develop certain health problems, such as cardiovascular disease or even some types of cancer, than a person who makes $40,000, and on up the pay scale. Given the recent economic downturn, many people are out of work. Does that mean we will be seeing a bunch more sick people in the upcoming years?
Not necessarily, suggests a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia. According to the report, high levels of “maternal warmth” may be able to counteract the negative effects of growing up in a poorer household.

Participants in this study were adults who had all grown up in a household where their parents worked “working class” jobs. When asked to remember how their mothers treated them during their first 16 years of life, some people recalled mom as being high in warmth, meaning she often was affectionate, spoke in a warm and friendly voice, and often smiled and laughed. But not everyone remembered their mom as acting in this warm and fuzzy way, and these people were identified as being low in maternal warmth.

Results from the study were striking: Even though all of the 53 participants had grown up in relatively poor economic conditions, those who had moms who were high warmth did not experience the negative effects. Specifically, people with warmer mothers did not show greater expression of genes that put us at risk for developing illness and diseases, while the subjects with relatively colder moms showed high expression of genes that make put us at risk for becoming sick.

The take-home message: Although many families may be struggling financially these days, that does NOT mean their kids will all develop health problems! By just taking some time to talk to and support our children in warm and fuzzy ways, we can protect their bodies from illness and disease.