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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 May 15;173(10):1148-58. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq483. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Life-course socioeconomic position and incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment without dementia in older Mexican Americans: results from the Sacramento area Latino study on aging.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, 3333 California Street, Suite 280, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.


There have been few investigations of the link between changes in life-course socioeconomic position (SEP) and cognitive decline or incidence of dementia. The authors examined the impact of changes in life-course SEP on incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment but not dementia (CIND) over a decade of follow-up. Participants of Mexican origin (n = 1,789) were members of the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging cohort. Incidence of dementia/CIND was ascertained by using standard diagnostic criteria. SEP indicators at 3 life stages (childhood, adulthood, and midlife) were used to derive a measure of cumulative SEP (range, 0 to 8) and SEP mobility. Nearly 24% of the sample maintained a low SEP throughout life. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were computed from Cox proportional hazards regression models. In fully adjusted models, participants with a continuously high SEP had lower hazard ratios for dementia/CIND compared with those with a continuously low SEP at all 3 life stages (hazard ratio = 0.49, 95% confidence interval: 0.24, 0.98; P = 0.04). In age-adjusted models, participants experienced a 16% greater hazard of dementia/CIND with every 1-unit increase in cumulative SEP disadvantage across the life course (hazard ratio = 1.16, 95% confidence interval: 1.01, 1.33; P = 0.04). Early exposures to social disadvantage may increase the risk of late-life dementia.

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