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Do you have siblings? It may impact your mental health

Having fewer siblings or a larger age gap between siblings may mean better mental health for teens.

That’s according to a recent study published in the “Journal of Family Issues.” Researchers asked 9,400 Chinese and about 9,100 American eighth-grade students questions about their mental health and then analyzed their responses. They found that among Chinese students, those with no siblings reported the best mental health, and among American students, those with no siblings or one sibling had the best mental health. The families of teens reporting the best mental health also had the highest socioeconomic advantages.

Researchers say the findings support the concept of resource dilution.

“If you think of parental resources like a pie, one child means they get all the pie,” said study author Doug Downey. “But when you add more siblings, each child gets fewer resources and attention from the parents, and that may have an impact on their mental health.”

Dr. Clare Crosh, a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Hospital, recommends taking the study’s findings with a grain of salt.

“There are countless studies that point to the benefits of having a close, positive relationship with siblings, especially as we age and enter adulthood. If you are considering having more children, it’s certainly important to consider resource allocation and your own time and mental health. Having children is a very personal decision, and one that you and your partner/family should make.”

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