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Dev Psychol. 2003 Sep;39(5):924-33.

A multimethodological analysis of cumulative risk and allostatic load among rural children.

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Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-4401, USA.


This study merged two theoretical constructs: cumulative risk and allostatic load. Physical (crowding, noise, housing quality) and psychosocial (child separation, turmoil, violence) aspects of the home environment and personal characteristics (poverty, single parenthood, maternal highschool dropout status) were modeled in a cumulative risk heuristic. Elevated cumulative risk was associated with heightened cardiovascular and neuroendocrine parameters, increased deposition of body fat, and a higher summary index of total allostatic load. Previous findings that children who face more cumulative risk have greater psychological distress were replicated among a sample of rural children and shown to generalize to lower perceptions of self-worth. Prior cumulative risk research was further extended through demonstration of self-regulatory behavior problems and elevated learned helplessness.

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