Embargoed until Monday, December 2, 2013 at 3 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. ET
DALLAS, Dec. 2, 2013 — African-American men raised in single-parent households in Washington, D.C., had higher blood pressure as adults than men raised by two parents, according to a study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
The study is the first to link childhood family living arrangements to adult blood pressure in African- American men, who have higher rates of high blood pressure than men in other ethnic groups.
“If the childhood environment’s influence on blood pressure is confirmed, it suggests that policies and programs designed to create and maintain family stability in childhood could have a long-lasting impact on the risk of hypertension,” researchers said.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health examined data on 515 men participating in a long-term Howard University Family Study. After adjusting for adult factors associated with blood pressure — age, exercise, smoking, body weight and medical history — they found:
Researchers suggested three key explanations for their study results:
“Living with both parents in early life may identify a critical period in human development where a nurturing socio-familial environment can have profound, long-lasting influences on blood pressure,” the authors said.
Authors are: Debbie S. Barrington, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Adebowale A. Adeyemo, M.D.; and Charles N. Rotimi, Ph.D., M.P.H. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The National Institutes of Health funded the study.
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