Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 170–179 | Cite as

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

Abstract

Background

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.

Purpose

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.

Method

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

Results

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.

Conclusion

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

Keywords

Ambulatory blood pressure Parental status Marriage Children Stress Cardiovascular 

References

  1. 1.
    Uchino BN. Social support and health: A review of physiological processes potentially underlying links to disease outcomes. J Behav Med. 2006; 29(4): 377–387.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Robles T, Kiecolt-Glaser. The physiology of marriage: Pathways to health. Physiol Behav. 2003; 79: 409–416.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Malarkey WB, Sheridan JF. The influence of psychological stress on the immune response to vaccines. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1998; 840: 649–655.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Preacher KJ, MacCallum RC, Atkinson C, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Chronic stress and age-related increases in the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2003; 100: 9090–9095.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brown SL, Nesse RM, Vinokur AD, Smith DM. Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a prospective study of mortality. Psychol Sci. 2003; 14: 320–327.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brown SL, Smith DM, Schulz R, et al. Caregiving behavior is associated with decreased mortality risk. Psychol Sci. 2009; 20: 488–494.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Twenge JM, Campbell WK, Foster CA. Parenthood and marital satisfaction: A meta-analytic review. J Marriage Fam. 2003; 65: 574–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Eaker ED, Sullivan LM, Kelly-Hayes M, D’Agostino Sr RB, Benjamin EJ. Marital status, marital strain, and risk of coronary heart disease or total mortality: The Framingham Offspring Study. Psychosom Med. 2007; 69: 509–513.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Vitaliano PP, Echeverria D, Yi J, Phillips PE, Young H, Siegler IC. Psychophysiological mediators of caregiver stress and differential cognitive decline. Psychol Aging. 2005; 20: 402–411.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bakas T, Pressler SJ, Johnson EA, Nauser JA, Shaneyfelt T. Family caregiving in heart failure. Nurs Res. 2006; 55: 180–188.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Borg C, Hallberg IR. Life satisfaction among informal caregivers in comparison with non-caregivers. Scand J Caring Sci. 2006; 20: 427–438.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gouin JP, Hantsoo L, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Immune dysregulation and chronic stress among older adults: A review. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2008; 15: 251–259.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Dura JR, Speicher CE, Trask OJ, Glaser R. Spousal caregivers of dementia victims: Longitudinal changes in immunity and health. Psychosom Med. 1991; 53: 345–362.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lee S, Colditz GA, Berkman LF, Kawachi I. Caregiving and risk of coronary heart disease in U.S. women: A prospective study. Am J Prev Med. 2003; 24: 113–119.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    DeLongis A. Relationship of daily hassles, uplifts, and major life events to health status. Health Psychol. 1982; 1: 119–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Crnic KA, Booth CL. Mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of daily hassles of parenting across early childhood. J Marriage Fam. 1991; 53: 1042–1050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ituarte PH, Kamarck TW, Thompson HS, Bacanu S. Psychosocial mediators of racial differences in nighttime blood pressure dipping among normotensive adults. Health Psychol. 1999; 18: 393–402.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Light KC, Smith TE, Johns JM, Brownley KA, Hofheimer JA, Amico JA. Oxytocin responsivity in mothers of infants: A preliminary study of relationships with blood pressure during laboratory stress and normal ambulatory activity. Health Psychol. 2000; 19: 560–567.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bartlett E. The effects of fatherhood on the health of men: A review of the literature. Journal of Men’s Health & Gender. 2004; 1(2): 159–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Steptoe A, Lundwall K, Cropley M. Gender, family structure and cardiovascular activity during the working day and evening. Soc Sci Med. 2000; 50: 531–539.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Bower JE, Kemeny ME, Taylor SE, Fahey JL. Finding positive meaning and its association with natural killer cell cytotoxicity among participants in a bereavement-related disclosure intervention. Annals Behav Med. 2003; 25: 146–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Vaananen A, Buunk BP, Kivimäki M, Pentti J, Vahtera J. When it is better to give than to receive: Long-term health effects of perceived reciprocity in support exchange. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2005; 89(2): 176–193.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Litwin H. The provision of informal support by elderly people residing in assisted living facilities. Gerontologist. 1998; 38(2): 239–246.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Piferi RL, Jobe RL, Jones WH. Giving to others during national tragedy: The effects of altruistic and egoistic motivations on long-term giving. J Soc Pers Relatsh. 2006; 23(1): 171–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Schwartz CE, Sendor M. Helping others helps oneself: Response shift effects in peer support. Soc Sci Med. 1999; 48(11): 1563–1575.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Taylor J, Turner R. A longitudinal study of the role and significance of mattering to others for depressive symptoms. J Health Soc Behav. 2001; 42: 310–325.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Taylor P, Funk C, Clark A. Generation gap in values, behaviors: As marriage and parenthood drift apart, public is concerned about social impact: Pew Research Center; 2007.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Dolan E, Stanton A, Thijs L, et al. Superiority of ambulatory over clinic blood pressure measurement in predicting mortality: The Dublin outcome study. Hypertension. 2005; 46: 156–161.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kikuya M, Ohkubo T, Asayama K, et al. Ambulatory blood pressure and 10-year risk of cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality: The Ohasama study. Hypertension. 2005; 45: 240–245.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Holt-Lunstad J, Birmingham W, Jones BQ. Is there something unique about marriage? The relative impact of marital status, relationship quality, and network social support on ambulatory blood pressure and mental health. Annals Behav Med. 2008; 35: 239–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Cacioppo JT, Malarkey WB, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, et al. Heterogeneity in neuroendocrine and immune responses to brief psychological stressors as a function of autonomic cardiac activation. Psychosom Med. 1995; 57: 154–164.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    White WB, Lund-Johansen P, McCabe EJ, Omvik P. Clinical evaluation of the Accutracker II ambulatory blood pressure monitor: Assessment of performance in two countries and comparison with sphygmomanometry and intra-arterial blood pressure at rest and during exercise. J Hypertens. 1989; 7: 967–975.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kamarck TW, Shiffman SM, Smithline L, et al. Effects of task strain, social conflict, and emotional activation on ambulatory cardiovascular activity: Daily life consequences of recurring stress in a multiethnic adult sample. Health Psychol. 1998; 17: 17–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, et al. Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. 2003; 42: 1206–1252.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ernst ME, Bergus GR. Noninvasive 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring: Overview of technology and clinical applications. Pharmacotherapy. 2002; 22: 597–612.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Brotman DJ, Davidson MB, Boumitri M, Vidt DG. Impaired diurnal blood pressure variation and all-cause mortality. Am J Hypertens. 2008; 21: 92–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kikuya M, Ohkubo T, Asayama K, et al. Ambulatory blood pressure and 10-year risk of cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality: The Ohasama study. Hypertension. 2005; 45: 240–245.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Routledge FS, Mcfetridge-Durdle JA, Dean CR. Night-time blood pressure patterns and target organ damage: A review. Can J Cardiol. 2007; 23: 132–138.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Li Y, Boggia J, Thijs L, et al. International database on ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in relation to cardiovascular outcomes investigators. Is blood pressure during the night more predictive of cardiovascular outcome than during the day? Blood Press Monit. 2008; 13: 145–147.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Conen D, Bamberg F. Noninvasive 24-h ambulatory blood pressure and cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Hypertens. 2008; 26(7): 1300–1302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Boggia J, Li Y, Thijs L, et al. Prognostic accuracy of day versus night ambulatory blood pressure: A cohort study. Lancet. 2007; 6: 370.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Spanier G. Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. J Marriage Fam. 1976; 38: 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Radloff LS. The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Appl Psychol Meas. 1977; 1: 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Diener E, Emmons RA, Larsen RJ, Griffin S. The satisfaction with life scale. J Pers Assess. 1985; 49: 71–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R. A global measure of perceived stress. J Health Soc Behav. 1983; 24: 385–396.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Buysse DJ, Reynolds CF, Monk TH, Berman SR. The Pittsburgh sleep quality index: A new instrument for psychiatric practice and research. Psychiatry Res. 1989; 28: 193–213.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Little R, Milliken G, Stroup W, Wolfinger R. SAS system for mixed models. Cary, NC: SAS Institute; 1996.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    O’Brien E, Sheridan J, O’Malley K. Dippers and non-dippers. Lancet. 1988; 2: 397.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Shapiro AF, Gottman JM, Carrère S. The baby and the marriage: Identifying factors that buffer against decline in marital satisfaction after the first baby arrives. Journal of Family Psychology: JFP: Journal Of The Division Of Family Psychology Of The American Psychological Association (Division 43). 2000; 14(1): 59–70.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Wartella J, Amory E, Macbeth AH, et al. Single or multiple reproductive experiences attenuate neurobehavioral stress and fear responses in the female rat. Physiol Behav. 2003; 79: 373–381.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Uvnas-Moberg K. Oxytocin linked antistress effects—the relaxation and growth response. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl. 1997; 640: 38–42.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Altemus M, Deuster PA, Galliven E, Carter CS, Gold PW. Suppression of hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses to stress in lactating women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995; 80: 2954–2959.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Shingo T, Gregg C, Enwere E, et al. Pregnancy-stimulated neurogenesis in the adult female forebrain mediated by prolactin. Science. 2003; 299: 117–120.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Theodosis DT, Poulain DA. Maternity leads to morphological synaptic plasticity in the oxytocin system. Prog Brain Res. 2001; 133: 49–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Taylor SE, Klein LC, Lewis BP, Gruenewald TL, Gurung RA, Updegraff JA. Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: Tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight. Psychol Rev. 2000; 107: 411–429.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Russo J, Moral R, Balogh GA, Mailo D, Russo IH. The protective role of pregnancy in breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res: BCR. 2005; 7: 131–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Kelsey JL, Gammon MD, John EM. Reproductive factors and breast cancer. Epidemiol Rev. 1993; 15: 36–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Rajkumar L, Guzman RC, Yang J, Thordarson G, Talamantes F, Nandi S. Short-term exposure to pregnancy levels of estrogen prevents mammary carcinogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2001; 98: 11755–11759.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Martinez G, Chandra A, Abma J, Jones J, Mosher W. Fertility, contraception, and fatherhood: Data on men and women from cycle 6 (2002) of the National Survey of Family Growth; 2006.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    LaMastro V. Childless by choice? Attributions and attitudes concerning family size. Soc Behav Pers. 2001; 29: 231–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Ishii-Kuntz M, Seccombe K. The impact of children upon social support networks throughout the life course. J Marriage Fam. 1989; 51: 777–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations