(Photo:Flickr/garden beth)

An angry child may take a toll on a parent’s patience, but according to a Canadian study, it could lead to something even more serious. New data suggests that the more aggressive children are, the more likely they are to have health problems as they grow older.

Researchers looked at data from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project to determine the impact of childhood aggression on health service usage in adulthood. They found that boys and girls who were aggressive during their childhood had an 8.1 percent increase in medical visits, a 10.7 percent increase in injuries, a 6.2 percent increase in visits to specialists, a 12.4 percent increase in emergency department visits and a 44.2 percent increase in lifestyle-related illnesses such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and alcohol dependence.

“Childhood aggression directly and positively predicted overall use of health services in adulthood for the participants of this study, as well as the number of visits they made to specialists, emergency departments and dentists, the number of times they were admitted to hospital, and the number of medical visits they made due to lifestyle-related illnesses and injuries,” the study’s authors wrote. “These associations were seen even when controlling for the effects of sex, education and neighborhood poverty. Our results confirm that there are specific behavioral characteristics, identifiable in childhood, that can have enduring consequences to physical health and can predict increased use of health services in adulthood.”

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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