Adverse social environments in early life are hypothesized to become biologically embedded during the first few years of life, with potentially far-reaching implications for health across the life course. Using prospective data from a subset of a US birth cohort, the Collaborative Perinatal Project, started in 1959-1966 (n = 566), we examined associations of social disadvantage assessed in childhood with cardiometabolic function and chronic disease status more than 40 years later (in 2005-2007). Social disadvantage was measured with an index that combined information on adverse socioeconomic and family stability factors experienced between birth and age 7 years. Cardiometabolic risk (CMR) was assessed by combining information from 8 CMR biomarkers; an index of chronic disease status was derived by assessing 8 chronic diseases. Poisson models were used to investigate associations between social disadvantage and CMR or chronic disease scores while adjusting for childhood covariates and potential pathway variables. A high level of social disadvantage was significantly associated with both higher CMR (incident rate ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval: 1.19, 2.39) and with a higher number of chronic diseases (incident rate ratio = 1.39, 95% confidence interval: 1.00, 1.92) in minimally adjusted models. Associations with CMR persisted even after accounting for childhood and adult covariates.
Keywords: biological markers; cardiometabolic risk; cohort studies; psychosocial factors; social disadvantage; social environment; socioeconomic status.
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