Life-Course Partnership Status and Biomarkers in Midlife: Evidence From the 1958 British Birth Cohort

Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug;105(8):1596-603. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302644. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


Objectives: We examined the association between trajectories of partnership status over the life course and objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

Methods: We used data from 4 waves (1981, 1991, 2000, and 2002-2004) of the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), a prospective cohort study that includes all people born in Britain during 1 week in March 1958 (n = 18 558).

Results: After controlling for selection attributable to early-life and early-adulthood characteristics, we found that life-course trajectories of partnership status were associated with hemostatic and inflammatory markers, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and respiratory function in midlife. Never marrying or cohabiting was negatively associated with health in midlife for both genders, but the effect was more pronounced in men. Women who had married in their late 20s or early 30s and remained married had the best health in midlife. Men and women in cohabiting unions had midlife health outcomes similar to those in formal marriages.

Conclusions: Partnership status over the life course has a cumulative effect on a wide range of objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products / analysis
  • Fibrinogen / analysis
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Single Person / statistics & numerical data
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / analysis
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vital Capacity
  • Young Adult
  • von Willebrand Factor / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products
  • fibrin fragment D
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Fibrinogen
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator