Nativity differences in allostatic load by age, sex, and Hispanic background from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

SSM Popul Health. 2016 Dec:2:416-424. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.05.003. Epub 2016 May 9.


Allostatic load (AL), an index of biological "wear and tear" on the body from cumulative exposure to stress, has been little studied in US Hispanics/Latinos. We investigated AL accumulation patterns by age, sex, and nativity in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. We studied 15,830 Hispanic/Latinos of Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Central and South American descent aged 18-74 years, 77% of whom were foreign-born. Consistent with the conceptualization of AL, we developed an index based upon 16 physiological markers that spanned the cardiometabolic, parasympathetic, and inflammatory systems. We computed mean adjusted AL scores using log-linear models across age-groups (18-44, 45-54, 55-74 years), by sex and nativity status. Among foreign-born individuals, differences in AL by duration of residence in the US (<10, ≥10 years) and age at migration (<24, ≥24 years) were also examined. In persons younger than 55 years old, after controlling for socioeconomic and behavioral factors, AL was highest among US-born individuals, intermediate in foreign-born Hispanics/Latinos with longer duration in the US (≥10 years), and lowest among those with shorter duration in the US (<10 years) (P <0.0001 for increasing trend). Similarly, AL increased among the foreign-born with earlier age at immigration. These trends were less pronounced among individuals ≥55 years of age. Similar patterns were observed across all Hispanic/Latino heritage groups (P for interaction=0.5). Our findings support both a "healthy immigrant" pattern and a loss of health advantage over time among US Hispanics/Latinos of diverse heritages.

Keywords: Allostatic load; Hispanic ethnicity; age patterns; nativity; physiological dysregulation.