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Study Finds That Strong Family Relationships May Benefit Children Suffering From Asthma

Here’s yet another reason why families should not only stick together, but continue to bond with one another. There’s a new study that suggests strong family relationships may benefit children suffering from asthma. As a matter of fact, positive family relationships may help many children maintain good asthma management behaviors, even when facing difficult neighborhood conditions.

According to Science Daily, neighborhood environmental conditions, which include allergens and pollutants, can play an important role in a child’s development. However, less is known about how social conditions in a neighborhood might affect a child’s asthma. A recent study looked at whether social factors can help buffer a child from the negative effects of difficult neighborhood conditions and surprisingly, the results found that the stronger the family bond, the more likely a child’s asthma conditions can be controlled. That’s because everyone is working together to make sure that the child is getting the best treatment possible while also trying to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.

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Edith Chen, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern and lead author of the study, said that she and her team looked at the significant interactions between neighborhood conditions and family relationship quality, while also predicting clinical asthma outcomes.

Dr. Chen said, “When children lived in neighborhoods that were high in danger and disorder, the better their family relationships, the fewer symptoms and activity limitations they had, and the better their pulmonary function."

Dr. Chen also pointed out that children who lived in neighborhoods that were lower in danger and disorder had more controlled symptoms and improved pulmonary function, regardless of what their personal family relationships looked like.

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With the help of Google Street View, the team of researchers took virtual walks around each participant’s neighborhood in cities like Chicago. The researchers gave each neighborhood an objective indicator of the level of danger and disorder in the community. They also interviewed each participant about their relationships with their family members and the level of support they were getting at home. The result was that the more support a child received from their loved ones, the better outcome they had in clinical, behavioral, and biological matters.

Dr. Chen further explained, “It's possible that when children have high-quality relationships with their family, family members are able to help their children prioritize asthma management, for example, perhaps by shielding them from neighborhood stressors in order to minimize the disruption to asthma routines. But this is speculative at this point, and future research could test this idea by implementing family or parenting interventions in youth with asthma who live in high-danger neighborhoods and examining their effects on childhood asthma outcomes."

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