Maternal relationship during adolescence predicts cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood

Jenalee R. Doom, Megan R Gunnar, Cari Jo Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study investigated whether greater maternal support during adolescence is associated with lower levels of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in adulthood, and whether maternal support serves as a moderator or a mediator of the socioeconomic status (SES) and CVD risk association. In addition, potential moderators and mediators of the association between adult CVD risk and adolescent maternal support and SES were tested. Method: Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 11,013), we examined relations between maternal support during adolescence (M = 15.3 years) and CVD risk in young adulthood (M = 28.7 years) via path analysis. Maternal support was assessed by a composite of adolescent and mother report. CVD risk was calculated with a Framinghambased prediction model that uses age, sex, body mass index, smoking, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, and use of antihypertensive medication. Results: Greater maternal support in adolescence was related to lower CVD risk in young adulthood (B = -0.56, 95% CI: -0.91 to -0.20, p < .01). The interaction between adolescent SES and maternal support was not significant, (p > .05), but there was an interaction between maternal support and race such that African American adolescents were more sensitive than Whites to the effects of maternal support on CVD risk (B = -0.90, 95% CI: -1.56, -0.25, p < .01). In addition, there was no evidence that maternal support mediated the association between SES and CVD risk (p > .05), and there was no association between SES and maternal support (p > .05), adjusting for confounders. However, the relations of adolescent maternal support and SES to adult CVD risk were mediated by young adult health behaviors and financial stress but not by depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Greater maternal support during adolescence appears to act independently of SES when impacting CVD risk and may operate through health behaviors and financial stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-386
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Renald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Add Health
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Health disparities
  • Maternal support
  • Socioeconomic status


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