A new study has found that children whose mothers retain strong bonds with other women, despite the pressures of motherhood, grow up to be very healthy.
In the study on chacma baboons, offspring of females sharing a unique and emotional bond with each other lived much longer than the children of those who didn't mingle with other females.
The researchers said that the findings came in line with previous studies showing friends reduce mortality and improve health in humans, particularly women.
They said that primates are unusual in the way they establish special bonds with other group members.
These relationships are particularly pronounced in species like baboons, in which females remain in their natal groups throughout their lives.
"Here we provide the first direct evidence that social relationships among female baboons convey fitness benefits. In a group of free-ranging baboons, the offspring of females who formed strong social bonds with other females lived significantly longer than the offspring of females who formed weaker social bonds," the Scotsman quoted Dr. Joan Silk, of the University of California, as saying.
He added: "In particular, females who formed stronger bonds with their mothers and adult daughters experienced higher survival rates than females who formed weaker bonds. These results parallel those from human studies, which show that greater social integration is generally associated with reduced mortality and better physical and mental health, particularly for women."
Psychologists have said that friends eliminate loneliness.
The study has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.