Paternal and Maternal Relationship and C-Reactive Protein and Glucose Levels: Effects and Moderating Factors
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The biomarkers of C-reactive protein and glucose are indicative of chronic stress. Consistently high levels of these biomarkers can relate to adverse health outcomes, including increased risk for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions. Environmental stressors and quality of interpersonal relationships can influence these biomarkers. Previous research has indicated a negative relationship between parental warmth and the presence of pro-inflammatory biomarkers. However, much of this research has focused on the maternal relationship. With shifts in childrearing responsibilities over recent decades, there is need for a closer examination of the importance of the paternal relationship for youth’s health outcomes, and how the effects of this relationship compare to those of the maternal relationship. This study compares the influence of paternal and maternal involvement and warmth as related to adolescent C-reactive protein and glucose levels. The study uses parental education as a proxy for socioeconomic status to determine how SES is linked to the relationship between parental care and C-reactive protein and glucose. The study also examines the roles of race/ethnicity, religious involvement, and community engagement as potential moderators between paternal/maternal warmth and adolescent CRP and glucose levels. Data from Wave I of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) was used to determine relative socioeconomic status. Data from Wave IV of Add Health was used to determine the paternal and maternal overall relationship and biomarker data for C-reactive protein and glucose levels. Analyses showed parental relationships were not significant predictors for CRP/glucose levels for the full sample. However there were several significant moderators found. Higher level of contact with the opposite gender parent was associated with higher youth CRP levels, and lower levels of parental education related to higher youth glucose levels when there were high levels of maternal contact. Civic engagement was also found to moderate the relationship between paternal closeness and glucose levels. Future analyses should examine further moderators of the parent-youth relationship which may positively affect adolescent health.