Boys affected more than girls by early parental death, finds study - Hindustan Times
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Boys affected more than girls by early parental death, finds study

ANI | | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz, Washington [us]
Jul 31, 2023 09:55 AM IST

Early parental death is strongly associated with a higher risk of children’s poor mental health in adulthood for both males and females but usually more for men

A substantial long-term study's findings, which were published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, suggest that boys may be more prone than girls to suffer the overall poor health and financial repercussions of losing a parent too soon.

Boys affected more than girls by early parental death, finds study (Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash)
Boys affected more than girls by early parental death, finds study (Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash)

Data indicate that, for both sexes, losing a parent before turning 21 is significantly linked to poor mental health, lower incomes, and unemployment in adulthood.

A link between a child's well-being and success after a parent passes away early has been demonstrated in prior research. Few studies, none of which employed reliable registry data, have looked at cumulative effects or the potential impact of gender, the researchers say.

They investigated whether losing a parent before the age of 21 was linked to a variety of indicators of poor mental health and employment outcomes between the ages of 26 and 30, as well as whether gender had any bearing on the associations.

Nearly 1 million Finns (962,350) who were born between 1971 and 1986 and had attained the age of 30 by 2016 were among them. The relevant registry data included death certificates for the parents as well as the children, nearly all of whom had finished school and found employment by the age of 30, as well as their children's medical and educational records, absences due to illness, and tax returns.

Some 65,797 people lost a parent before the age of 21, and this was associated with greater odds of hospital admission for mental ill health than it was for those who experienced this after the age of 30.

Boys and young men who lost their mothers prematurely had nearly 2.5 times the odds of hospital admission for intentional self-harm as those who lost their mothers in their 30s.

Similarly, girls and young women who lost their fathers prematurely were around twice as likely to have a substance use disorder than those who hadn’t experienced this. Early maternal death was also associated with a substantial increase in stress disorders.

Sick leave was also more likely among both sexes. Losing a parent before the age of 21 was also associated with fewer years of schooling, lower annual earnings, and more periods of unemployment at ages 26–30 for both sexes.

The largest reduction in years of schooling (4 per cent)— equivalent to more than half an academic year—was among girls who had lost their mothers prematurely. The key strengths of the study lie in the use of nationwide population data, comprehensive monitoring, and both secondary and primary care psychiatric health records, say the researchers.

But they acknowledge that this is an observational study, which can’t account for all potentially influential factors, such as personality traits that may have affected the associations found. And the analysis didn’t capture mild mental health issues nor account for (shared) genetic and environmental factors in childhood, all of which may have been influential, they admit.

Nevertheless, they concluded, “Early parental death is strongly associated with a higher risk of children’s poor mental health in adulthood for both males and females, but the estimated odds ratios are usually quantitatively larger for males.”

Similarly, losing a parent prematurely “is negatively associated with children’s labour market outcomes (ie, employment and earnings) in adulthood, and these associations are quantitatively larger for males.”

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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