It has long been accepted that children with a happy childhood grow up to be happier adults, but now a new study has revealed that specific characteristics evident in childhood are likely to cause positive or negative emotions and influence biological and behavioral responses to stress. In turn, this may determine whether kids grow up to be healthy adults or not. The study, which looked at 569 individuals, age 7 to mid-30s, to see if certain personality traits influenced later health, found that children who were able to stay focused on a task and react less negatively to situations at age 7 reported better general health and fewer illnesses 30 years later.
Trained observers rated the 7-year-olds on 15 different behaviors and the behaviors were then assigned to 3 different personality attributes: attention, distress-proneness, and behavior inhibition (the tendency toward shyness, acting withdrawn and having difficulty communicating). To determine adult health, the subjects rated their own health and reported whether they had any of the following illnesses: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, arthritis, stroke, bleeding ulcer, tuberculosis or hepatitis. They found that for all the participants, superior attention spans and having a more positive outlook in childhood most affected their later health.
Interestingly, these effects were greater for women, suggesting that women may be more sensitive to interactions among emotion, behavior and biology and, therefore, be more predisposed to certain health risks, such as heart disease. No differences in these effects were found across race or ethnicity. Of the sample, 76% reported good or excellent health and 18 percent reported illnesses. The researchers found that this longitudinal study provides even more evidence that behavior and emotions generally linked to certain temperaments play a crucial role in long-term health, and fortunately, early childhood characteristics can be shaped and guided by social, family and peer interactions. Interventions can focus on changing particular ways of responding and behaviors that frequently go along with particular traits in order to prevent the development of some diseases.
Veronica is a holistic nutritionist and midwife with a passion for health issues and tips unique to the 2 sexes, FHMweb is where you’ll find the most intriguing studies along with posts about any and all things pertaining to female and male health. Particularly interesting is the ever-growing health concern of infertility; here I’ll take the time to post tidbits about natural ways to enhance your fertility and overall health.