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Study: Early Attachment Helps Teens Make Better Decisions

October 15, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen smoking rates in Tennessee are above 20 percent, but a study recently published in the "Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health" finds that early childhood bonds with at least one family member could help reverse that statistic and help young people become healthy, functioning adults.

Dr. Kate Green, who specializes in child development research, says the study confirms how important a stable, loving relationship can be in a child's development.

"We've known this for a long time. When they are connected to at least one person within the family and have that strong attachment figure, they have better outcomes across the board."

The study found that, compared to their peers, children with strong, supportive relationships had a substantially reduced risk for mental health concerns (such as suicidal thoughts) in adulthood and a lower risk for alcohol and drug disorders. These individuals also made better career choices by age 30.

Green says an early, strong attachment can even help teenagers make healthy lifestyle choices, such as whether or not they decide to smoke, or choosing to be in a strong relationship.

"They get into trouble less and have fewer teenage pregnancies. Even up into their twenties - when they're getting into their first big relationships with other people, those are more successful."

Tobacco statistics are available at

Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN