Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 170–179

Married With Children: The Influence of Parental Status and Gender on Ambulatory Blood Pressure

  • Julianne Holt-Lunstad
  • Wendy Birmingham
  • Adam M. Howard
  • Dustin Thoman
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12160-009-9152-1

Cite this article as:
Holt-Lunstad, J., Birmingham, W., Howard, A.M. et al. ann. behav. med. (2009) 38: 170. doi:10.1007/s12160-009-9152-1



Although there is substantial evidence that social relationships and marriage may influence both psychological and physical health, little is known about the influence of children.


This study examined the competing predictions regarding the directional influence of parental status and its interaction with gender—given that mothers are typically disproportionately more responsible for everyday care of children—on cardiovascular functioning.


We examined ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) over 24 hours among 198 married males and females.


Couples without children had significantly higher ambulatory SBP and DBP than those with children. Moreover, we found a significant interaction between parental status and gender that suggested women with children showed the lowest ABP, whereas women without children displayed the highest ABP.


These findings suggest that parenthood, and especially motherhood, may be cardioprotective.


Ambulatory blood pressure Parental status Marriage Children Stress Cardiovascular 

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julianne Holt-Lunstad
    • 1
  • Wendy Birmingham
    • 2
  • Adam M. Howard
    • 3
  • Dustin Thoman
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.School of MedicineUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State UniversityLong BeachUSA

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