Grand­par­ents ‘a child health risk’

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY JOHN VON RADOWITZ

Grand­par­ents are a po­ten­tial health haz­ard for chil­dren and may even in­crease their risk of can­cer, say sci­en­tists.

They spoil their grand­chil­dren with sweet “treats” and big help­ings of fat­ten­ing food, and ex­pose their young lungs to sec­ond­hand to­bacco smoke, it is al­leged. The ex­tra­or­di­nary claims are based on a re­view of re­search into the in­flu­ence grand­par­ents have on life­style fac­tors.

Lead au­thor Dr Stephanie Chambers, of the Univer­sity of Glas­gow’ said: “While the re­sults of this re­view are clear that be­hav­iour such as ex­po­sure to smok­ing and reg­u­larly treat­ing chil­dren in­creases can­cer risks as chil­dren grow into adult­hood, it is also clear from the ev­i­dence that th­ese risks are un­in­ten­tional.”

Pre­vi­ous re­search has looked at the way par­ents can af­fect their chil­dren’s sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to can­cer and other dis­eases, but less at- ten­tion has been paid to the role of part-time car­ers such as grand­par­ents, said the sci­en­tists.

The Glas­gow team an­a­lysed data from 56 stud­ies from 18 coun­tries that in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about the in­flu­ence of grand­par­ents on their grand­chil­dren. Over­all, grand­par­ents were found to have an ad­verse ef­fect

“It is also clear from ev­i­dence that risks are un­in­ten­tional”

– de­spite mean­ing well. In many cases, such as re­ward­ing good be­hav­iour with sweets, they were putting the health of their grand­chil­dren at risk with kind­ness. To some ex­tent, the neg­a­tive im­pact on diet and weight was bal­anced by a more pos­i­tive find­ing with re­spect to phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, the sci­en­tists found.

None of the stud­ies took ac­count of the pos­i­tive emo­tional ben­e­fit of chil­dren spend­ing time with their grand­par­ents.

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