Good parenting protects against chronic illness says professor of public health

Research reveals that good parenting not only helps to reduce criminality, conduct disorder and delinquency in children but could promote good health and prevent chronic disease in adulthood, says University of Warwick Professor of Public Health Sarah Stewart-Brown.

On 10th November 2004 at a Policy Briefing in London Professor Stewart-Brown will present findings from research on the impact of parenting on health. She is set to suggest that parenting is a key area for public health improvement and that it has a crucial role to play in the prevention of health inequalities.

Research indicates that widespread provision of help and support for parents could have an important beneficial impact on future mental and physical health. The impact of unsatisfactory relationships in childhood is revealed in a wide range of common health problems including, in some studies, cardiovascular disease, cancer, musculoskeletal problems, depression and attempted suicide. Poor quality relationships predict poor health independently of socio-economic circumstances.

Being a parent might seem the like the hardest job in the world, but it's also one of the most important. "Almost all parents aim to do the best for their children often in difficult circumstances and problems that arise are usually to do with approaches which have been passed down through the generations without being questioned. It is not that society is full of bad parents, it's just that many of us could do a better job if we were better prepared", says Professor Stewart-Brown from the University of Warwick.

The quality of relationships in the home in childhood effects both mental and physical health in adulthood. The public health impact of programmes to improve parent-child relationships is likely to be significant. Although effective programmes have been developed in the UK, there is a need for wider availability and more opportunities for parents to attend.

Three national birth

Contact: Jenny Murray
University of Warwick

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