Parental Status and Biological Functioning: Findings from the Nashville Stress and Health Study
Does childrearing affect the biological functioning of parents? To address this question, we analyze cross-sectional survey and biomarker data from Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Stress and Health Study, a probability sample of non-Hispanic White and Black working-age adults from Davidson County, Tennessee (2011–2014; n = 1252). Multivariable regression analyses reveal a linear dose–response relationship between the number of children living in a respondent’s home and (a) increased allostatic load, and (b) decreased leukocyte telomere length. We found no differences in biological functioning between childless respondents and empty-nest parents. These findings also withstood controls for a battery of socioeconomic factors. The implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.
KeywordsChildrearing Parental health Biological functioning Allostatic load Telomere length
This work is supported by Grant R01AG034067 from the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research and the National Institute on Aging. No direct support was received from Grant R01 AG034067 for this analysis.
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