Baby's Health is Tied to Mother's Value for Family
The value that an expectant mother places on family -- regardless of the reality of her own family situation -- predicts the birthweight of her baby and whether the child will develop asthma symptoms three years later, according to new research from USC.
Continue reading Science Daily article here...
Also, check out the original journal article by Dr. Abdou and her colleagues published in Social Science & Medicine here.
There are marked ethnic and socioeconomic differences in birthweight and childhood asthma, conditions which may be linked causally or via a third variable. Cultural resources are often credited with diminished health disparities in infancy and childhood among subsets of poor and minority populations; yet direct empirical tests of this hypothesis are needed. In this study, ethnicity, lifespan family socioeconomic position (FSEP), and the cultural resource of familism were compared as predictors of birthweight and expression of asthma symptoms (AE) by age three. Familism and lifespan FSEP were assessed in 4633 socioeconomically disadvantaged African Americans, White Americans, and Latinas upon giving birth, as was offspring birthweight. AE was assessed in offspring through age three. Asthma diagnosis by age three was likelier in very low (≤1500 g) and low (≤2500 g) birthweight infants compared to infants born at average (2501–3999 g) or larger (≥4000 g) birthweights. Asthma risk associated with lower birthweight was higher for Latinos (17–35%) and African Americans (19–23%) than for White Americans (13–14%). As predicted, maternal familism was higher among White Americans than among African Americans and Latinas, an effect that was largely driven by ethnic disparities in lifespan FSEP. Familism predicted continuous birthweight (p = .003) and AE (p = .001) by age three independently of ethnicity and lifespan FSEP accounting for appropriate control variables, including maternal biomedical risk, maternal acculturation, parental marital status, and infant sex. There was a 71-g gain in birthweight for every one-unit increase in familism. The protective effect of familism on AE by age three was strongest for participants of lower lifespan FSEP. Maternal familism is one cultural resource that may reduce reproductive and intergenerational health disparities in both U.S.- and foreign-born Americans. Consistent with our previous work, familism and other nonmaterial resources covary with material resources. Nevertheless, culture is distinguishable from lifespan FSEP and ethnicity, and has health implications beyond associations to ethnicity, lifespan FSEP, and related biomedical and sociodemographic factors.
► Forward-thinking in integrating diverse literature on culture, health disparities, and the links between birthweight and childhood asthma. ► Measuring a specific aspect of culture, familism, pushes the operational definition of culture beyond ethnicity and socioeconomic status. ► Considers the unique and combined impact of culture, ethnicity, and family socioeconomic position on birthweight and childhood asthma symptoms. ► Familism predicts birthweight and the development of asthma symptoms by age three independently of ethnicity and family socioeconomic position. ► Offers novel insights into the severe health disparities faced by African American, Latino, and poor families.
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