Risks to survival begin early in life

November 07, 2002

Adult death rates are higher among people growing up in poor living conditions, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers in London set out to test whether socioeconomic conditions in childhood and early adulthood have influenced the survival of British people born in the immediate post war era. They examined premature death (between 26 and 54 years of age) in 2,132 women and 2,322 men born in March 1946 in relation to socioeconomic conditions in childhood and adulthood.

Study members whose father's occupation was manual at age 4, who lived in the worst housing, or who received the poorest care in childhood had double the death rate during adulthood of those living in the best conditions.

Those for whom socioeconomic disadvantage continued into early adulthood were between three and five times more likely to die than those in the most advantageous conditions.

This group is still relatively young, and continued follow up will allow us to see if the effects observed before 55 years weaken, remain the same, or strengthen as the group ages, conclude the authors.
-end-


BMJ

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