Importance of early life factors lies in their influence on adult social circumstances

April 09, 2001

Relative contribution of early life and adult socioeconomic factors to adult morbidity in the Whitehall II study 2001; 55: 301-7

The importance of early life factors on adult health lies just as much in the influence they exert on adult social circumstances as on any direct "programming."

This month's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reports on over 10,000 British civil servants aged between 35 and 55, who were taking part in the Whitehall II study. The employees, ranging across 20 different departments from all administrative grades, were monitored for an average of five years to check for coronary artery disease, chronic bronchitis, and depression.

The higher the employment grade, the lower was the risk of all three diseases in men. There was a 30 per cent differential in the risk of developing heart disease between the highest and lowest grade. This was as high as 44 per cent for chronic bronchitis. Among women, those in higher grades were at greater risk of coronary heart disease and chronic bronchitis.

But current working grade had a much stronger impact on adult ill health than grade at entry into the Civil Service or father's social class. Even among people with long-lived parents, grade of employment still predicted ill health.

Among high grade employees, those who had originally come from less affluent backgrounds, had similar risks of heart disease as those from more advantaged backgrounds. But people in lower status jobs from less affluent backgrounds had higher risks.

The authors conclude that early life circumstances are important because of how they influence adult social circumstances. And these are important, they say, because of the way in which they affect health behaviours and disease risk.

Professor Michael Marmot, International Centre for Health and Society, University College, London.

BMJ Specialty Journals

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to