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Study Hall: Nurturing moms raise physically healthier adults

For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.


It turns out your mom’s hugs and words of encouragement may have contributed to more than just your superstar confidence. A new study in the journal Psychological Science (published January 23, 2012) found that people raised by nurturing mothers were less likely to develop chronic diseases in adulthood.

The study:  Researchers tested more than 1,000 adults (average age 56) to see if they had precursors for heart disease and diabetes and if this related to their childhood socioeconomic status. They then asked them a series of questions to measure how nurturing their parents were during their childhood.

The results: Individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds were much more likely to have poorer health, as expected. But being raised by a nurturing mother offset this likelihood—loving moms led to a decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes in adulthood overall. Doting dads did not have the same effect.

What it means: If you were lucky enough to have been raised by a warm-and-fuzzy mom, she may deserve a bigger gift this Mother’s Day. With your own (future?) kids, pencil in some cuddle time after they’ve finished their carrots. —Allison Becker