Childhood adversity linked to higher risk of early death

Traumatic childhood experiences are linked to an increased risk of early death, according to new research using data from the 1958 National Child Development Study.

The research, led by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), in collaboration with the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society and Health at UCL, found that men and women who had suffered adversity in childhood were more likely to die before age of 50 than those who had not.

The researchers compared premature death rates among more than 15,000 people to their experiences of adversity at ages 7, 11 and 16. This included spending time in care, suffering from neglect, parental separation or having a family member in prison.

For women, the likelihood of dying before age 50 increased with the amount of adversity they had suffered in childhood. Women who had suffered one by age 16 were 66 per cent more likely to die before the age of 50 than those who had not faced any adversity. Women who had two or more adverse experiences in childhood had an 80 per cent increased risk of premature death.

Men who had suffered two or more traumatic events in childhood were 57 per cent more likely to die by the time they were 50 than those who had not experienced any adversity growing up.

The association between childhood adversity and premature death remained even after taking into account factors such as and social class, alcohol and , and psychological problems in .

The researchers note that some causes of death in early are related to , such as suicide or addiction to alcohol or drugs. However, they also suggest that children who suffer severe stress may experience imbalances in their hormone and immune systems that impact on their physical development and later health.

For the first time in any study, the longitudinal nature of the data made it possible to link the risk of early death to experiences of adversity that have been recorded during childhood, rather than relying on adult recollections of early life experiences.

Professor Mel Bartley, one of the UCL authors of the study, says: "Our Centre has been collaborating with public health researchers at INSERM to enable them to use unique British birth cohort data to test their ideas.

"This work on early psychological trauma and adds a whole new dimension to public health. It shows that if we are going to ensure better health in the population the work needs to begin early in life to support children experiencing severe adversities. Many people have suspected this but until now we have not had such high quality evidence from such a large cohort of people."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Migraines, strokes may be linked to childhood adversity

May 10, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Migraines, strokes and other inflammatory diseases suffered by some adult women may be linked to adverse experiences that occurred during childhood, says a new study co-authored by a Ball State University ...

Childhood abuse linked with food addiction in adult women

May 29, 2013

Women who experienced severe physical or sexual abuse during childhood are much more likely to have a food addiction as adults than women who did not experience such abuse, according to a new study published in the journal ...

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

13 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments