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Family Structure Linked To High Blood Pressure In African-American Men

Update Date: Dec 14, 2013 06:00 PM EST

Children of African-American families who grow up in two-parent homes are less likely to have high blood pressure in their adulthoods, compared to those raised by single parent.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health performed first of its kind of study on African-American population that puts light on the association between childhood family living arrangements and blood pressure.

“Family structure is among a slew of environmental influences that, along with our genes, help determine our health as adults,” said Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in a press release. “This study makes important observations about home life that may affect susceptibility to complex diseases later on in life.”

A group of 515 African-American men were enrolled in the study at Howard University. The research showed that African-American men who grew up in the household with both parents had notable lower blood pressure than those who were brought up in a household with single parent.

The most positive health effects were recorded for men who lived with both parents till they were 12 years old.

Hypertension is responsible for another bunch of body disorders that includes heart disease, stroke, heart attack and even kidney disease.

Statistics show that around one-third of U.S. adults are suffering from hypertensions. The burden is certainly higher in African-American community affecting 39 per cent of males and 43 per cent of women.

“Being raised by a single parent really puts kids at a disadvantage in terms of resources that would be available to them,” added Charles Rotimi, Ph.D., co-author and senior investigator in NHGRI’s Inherited Disease Research Branch and director of the trans-NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health (CRGGH) in the press release. “Our study is not an indictment of single-parent homes. Single parents, however, may struggle more to keep things together, and this may be impacting children in ways that later manifest as adult onset diseases.”

The study is published in the Dec. 12, 2013 issue of the journal Hypertension.

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