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Brain Behav Immun. 2009 Aug;23(6):803-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2009.02.021. Epub 2009 Mar 9.

Daily family assistance and inflammation among adolescents from Latin American and European backgrounds.

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Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California-Los Angeles, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.


To assess the biological impact of time spent helping the family during the teenage years, we examined circulating levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), soluble interleukin-6 receptor (sIL-6r), and C-reactive protein (CRP) in 64 adolescents (M(age)=17.79 years) from Latin American and European backgrounds. Analyses of nightly diary checklists over 14 days showed that the amount of time spent helping the family in a variety of ways, such as cooking, cleaning, and sibling care, was associated with long-term elevations of sIL-6r and CRP, even after controlling for ethnicity, parental education, BMI, substance use, distress, and frequency of daily family assistance 2 years earlier. However, adolescents who derived a greater sense of role fulfillment from helping the family on a daily basis had lower levels of sIL-6r and CRP as compared to their peers who engaged in the same amount of family assistance. Additional work should explore the family context that drives high levels of assistance among adolescents, as well as the variety of ways adolescents may derive meaning from this activity.

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