Socioeconomic position in childhood and early adult life and risk of mortality: a prospective study of the mothers of the 1958 British birth cohort

Am J Public Health. 2005 Aug;95(8):1396-402. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.047340. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


Objectives: We sought to establish whether women's childhood socioeconomic position influenced their risk of mortality separately from the effects of adult socioeconomic position.

Methods: We examined 11855 British women aged 14 to 49 years, with mortality follow-up over a 45-year period.

Results: Trends according to childhood social class were observed for all-cause mortality, circulatory disease, coronary heart disease, respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, lung cancer, and stomach cancer, with higher death rates among members of unskilled manual groups. Associations attenuated after adjustment for adult social class, smoking, and body mass index. No trend was seen for breast cancer or accidents and violence. Adverse social conditions in both childhood and adulthood were associated with higher death rates from coronary heart disease and respiratory disease. Stomach cancer was influenced primarily by childhood conditions and lung cancer by factors in adult life.

Conclusions: Socioeconomic position in childhood was associated with adult mortality in a large sample of British women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*