Note: This post originally appeared on Stanford Medicine’s award-winning medical blog, Scope. This is being archived here for professional posterity.
I was a pretty healthy kid growing up, something I’ve mostly attributed to my parents’ encouragement of my vegetable-eating, outdoor-playing tendencies. It wasn’t until today when I read this Reuters article that it even occurred to me that my health could influence – or predict – that of my parents.
A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics finds that kids’ health may be a good predictor of their parents’ cardiovascular health.
Charles J. Glueck, MD, of Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati led the study that measured weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides of over 800 children at age 12, and then reassessed them, as well as their parents, 26 years later. The study found that nearly half of the now grown-up children – 47 percent – had a parent who had suffered a heart attack, stroke or needed a procedure to clear blocked arteries at some point during the duration of the study; 37 percent, a parent had developed diabetes.
For children in the study who were overweight, their parents’ likelihood of developing high blood pressure or diabetes had doubled. “Pediatric risk factors – cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure – identified families where parents were at increased risk,” Glueck told Reuters.
But what does this mean? For now, simply that childhood screenings – including one for cholesterol, which has only been recommended in recent years as part of ‘well-child’ checkups – may predict risks in both kids and parents. (And this is important, Glueck said, because some parents don’t go to the doctor’s themselves – but routinely take their children.)