Researchers studied 515 black men older than 20 between 2001 and 2008. More than half of the men had high blood pressure and about one-third never lived with both parents.
After adjusting for age, family history of hypertension and other variables, they found that compared with men who never lived with both parents, men who had lived with both parents at any time in their lives had an average systolic blood pressure that was 4.9 millimeters of mercury lower. Among those who had lived with both parents for between one and 12 years, the average was 6.5 millimeters of mercury lower.
The authors acknowledge that living with both parents may be connected to higher socioeconomic status, which could influence blood pressure, and that the study can draw no conclusions about causality.
Still, the lead author, Debbie S. Barrington, a senior research fellow at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said it is a provocative finding. "The magnitude of the effect is very large," she said, "even stronger than the effect of certain blood pressure medications."
Image: Mother and child, via Shutterstock