Sat, Feb 25, 2017 | updated 07:06 PM IST

Absence of parents during early childhood linked to smoking, drinking before teens

Updated: Oct 11, 2016 14:24 IST
Washington D.C. [India], Oct. 11 (ANI): Parental absence in early childhood due to death or relationship break-down is linked to a heightened risk of starting to smoke and drink alcohol before the child reaches his teens, suggests a recent research.

Earlier researches suggest that childhood adversities are associated with poorer mental and physical health in adulthood and the 'loss' of a parent has been linked to a heightened risk of smoking and drinking in adolescence and later life.

But what is not clear is whether parental absence is a risk factor for an even earlier start on 'risky' health behaviours or what the potential impact might be of the child's sex, the age at which they experienced their loss or which parent they lost.

The researchers, therefore, drew on data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which has been tracking the health of almost 19,000 children born between 2000 and 2002, in regular surveys.

The first of these was carried out 9 months after birth with subsequent surveys when the children were 3, 5, 7 and 11 years old.

At the age of 11 the children were also asked whether they had ever smoked or drunk alcohol, and whether they had ever consumed enough to feel drunk.

Parental absence was defined as the 'loss' of a biological parent before the child was 7 years old.

In all, the researchers had complete data for almost 11,000 children, more than one in four of whom had experienced the 'loss' of a parent by the age of 7.

Most children had not smoked by the age of 11, although among those that had, this behaviour was more likely among the boys: 3.6 percent versus 1.9 percent of the girls.

Drinking alcohol was more common, with boys once again more likely to have tried it: around 1 in 7 of them (almost 15 percent) and around 1 in 10 of the girls (10.6 percent) said they had ever drunk alcohol.

Of those that had tried alcohol, around twice as many of the boys--nearly 12 percent compared with 6.6 percent of the girls-- were likely to say that they had consumed enough to feel drunk.

Analysis of the data showed that children who had experienced parental absence before the age of 7 were more than twice as likely to have taken up smoking and 46 percent more likely to have started drinking alcohol by the age of 11.

The findings held true even after taking account of potentially influential factors, such as educational attainment of the parent(s); mother's ethnicity; mother's age at parenthood; smoking during pregnancy; length of pregnancy and birth weight.

Similarly, the child's sex, the age at which they first experienced parental absence, or which parent was missing, had no bearing on the findings.

However, while children who had lost a parent through death were less likely to have drunk alcohol by the age of 11, those that did, were more than 12 times as likely to get drunk than were children whose parent was absent for other reasons.

Researchers said, "Associations between parental absence and early smoking and alcohol consumption may operate through a range of mechanisms, such as reduced parental supervision, self-medication, and adoption of less healthy coping mechanisms."

"For instance, nicotine in particular demonstrates psychoactive properties and may have benefits for mood regulation," they added.

This is an observational study so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

And, as with all long term studies, missing data are a potential source of bias. Furthermore, no information was included on parental absence between the ages of 7 and 11, which may have influenced behaviour.

Their findings echo those of other studies in this area, emphasizing that health behaviors established in early life are known to set patterns for later life.

The study was published in Archives of Disease in Childhood journal. (ANI)

New Delhi [India], Feb 25 (ANI): In your free time for book lovers nothing can be more interesting than spending time with some great food paired with an array of teas while having a favorite novel in hand. Located in the prime location of Delhi, Cha Bar located inside Oxford Bookstore has lots to offer to its customers.

Full Story >>

New York [USA], Feb. 25 (ANI): It's not only the peer pressure that makes kids try alcohol or smoke pot!

Full Story >>

'Straight' women tend to orgasm less!

Updated: Feb 25, 2017 06:27 IST

New York [USA], Feb. 25 (ANI): 'Orgasm gap' is something all have experienced while making love.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 25 (ANI): A European study has revealed that the majority of university students believe it is the social norm to use drugs like Ritalin to enhance academic performance - despite very few having used stimulants themselves.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 25 (ANI): "What will they say about you? Maybe they'll say you showed them what's possible."- This is what sports brand Nike has to say through their new commercial, which has gone viral on the Internet.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [US], Feb. 24 (ANI): Parents, please take note! A study warns teenagers who self-report feeling drowsy during mid-afternoon, are 4.5 times more likely to commit violent crimes a decade and a half later.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 24 (ANI): A team of US researchers warn, fathers, who do cocaine at the time of conceiving a child, may be putting their son at risk of learning disabilities and memory loss.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 24 (ANI): Waring for all the sea food lovers! Consuming fish, rich in mercury may double the risk of developing motor neurone disease.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 23 (ANI): A two- day annual fest "POLITIA" was organised by political science department of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee college for Women, University of Delhi, on February 20 and 21.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 23 (ANI): The implementation of state laws for legalising same-sex marriage can significantly reduce the rate of suicide attempts among teenagers, reveals a study.

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 22 (ANI): Beware to-be mothers! Listeria, a common food-borne bacterium, may pose a greater risk of miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy than appreciated, warns a study.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 22 (ANI): Theatre is poetry! It's an amalgamation of music, dance and body language which takes the process of emoting to its peak. With the boom of visual digital media, theater had taken a backseat in terms of popularity.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 22 (ANI): In the day and age of months, sometimes years being spent planning the perfect wedding, reality is often a rude shock when the wedding is over and the marriage begins! This is because no one thinks of asking the questions that really matter!

Full Story >>

London [UK], Feb. 21 (ANI): Looks like Yo-Yo diet is not that bad!

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 21 (ANI): As exams are just around the corner, many students would need to declutter their rooms and organise them in a better way so that they can focus only on their studies without getting distracted due to unmanaged stuff surrounding them.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb 20 (ANI): After successful openings at their existing restaurants in Saket, Pacific Mall and Mall of India (Noida), Carl's Jr.®, the iconic American burger chain is now bringing its bigger and better California-style burgers to a prime location on the Gold Course Road, OHC (One Horizon Centre), Gurugram.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb. 20 (ANI): When every issue these days can be resolved with the help of your mobile phone, why can't parenting be too?

Full Story >>

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 19 (ANI): In first of its kind, Broadcast Wearables has come up with a smart fitness t-shirt that can be used for navigation and keep an account of the steps you take, calories burnt and floors climbed.

Full Story >>

New Delhi (India), Feb. 19 (ANI): Referred as India's first original independent music startup, 'Friday Night Originals' has started with a vision to make original and independent music accessible to everyone.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], Feb.19 (ANI): The Embassy of Germany, the German School and the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) will jointly host a two-day German Springfest at the German House here on February 25 and 26 this year.

Full Story >>