05/11/2009

The Grandmother effect

A grandmother with her granddaughterImage via Wikipedia
This peripheral role of grandparents is a relatively new phenomenon – especially for grandmothers. For thousands of years grandmothers helped with child care, domestic chores, even food gathering. In fact, anthropologists have argued that the effect of grandmotherly care on child survival was so potent that it shaped some of our most basic biology: menopause, cognitive decline, even longevity itself. 

These evolutionary benefits of grand mothering evaporate when grandmas no longer live with (or near) their grandchildren. Studies have also suggested that only youthful grandparents provide discernible benefits to child health. So as the distance between grandparents and children grows, both in geography and in age, does this spell the end to the grandmother effect?

from On the Origin of Grandmas



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