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Int J Epidemiol. 2008 Apr;37(2):290-8. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

When do social inequalities in C-reactive protein start? A life course perspective from conception to adulthood in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, International Institute for Society and Health, UCL Medical School, London, UK.



It is unclear when in the life course do social inequalities in inflammation emerge. We examined whether the association between socioeconomic position (SEP) and C-reactive protein (CRP) is determined at conception, in childhood, adolescence or adulthood in 1484 participants from the population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.


Five variants of the CRP gene were used to investigate whether SEP differences in CRP levels are determined at conception. SEP and serum CRP were assessed in childhood (age 3-9), adolescence (age 12-18) and in adulthood (age 24-39). SEP was measured using parental education and occupational status in childhood and adolescence, and participants' own education and occupational status in adulthood. Participants with CRP > 10 mg/l were excluded.


All CRP gene variants were associated with circulating CRP concentrations in childhood, but there were no differences in the distribution of these variants by SEP. No strong evidence was found of associations between parental SEP and CRP. A graded association between higher SEP and lower CRP was observed in adulthood for education (P = 0.0005) but not for occupational status. Trajectories that led to high educational achievement both in the participants and their parents were associated with lower (P <or= 0.047) CRP levels in adulthood. Excluding participants with infectious diseases, pregnant or lactating women and women using oral contraceptives did not change the findings.


In this cohort, SEP differences in CRP concentrations seen in adulthood appear not to be determined at conception or evident in childhood or adolescence.

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