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J Community Health. 2012 Aug;37(4):781-90. doi: 10.1007/s10900-011-9511-2.

Early community contexts, race/ethnicity and young adult CVD risk factors: the protective role of education.

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  • 1Department of Child and Family Development, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Using a sample of 13,500 adolescents (53% female and 47% male) who participated in all four waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study used multilevel regression to examine the influence of early structural community adversity (as measured by rates of community poverty, single-parent headed families, and two indicators of employment) and racial/ethnic status on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors of young adults (systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and mean arterial pressure). The moderating role of youth's socioeconomic attainment was also examined. Results indicate that early community adversity and African American racial status place young adults at risk for CVD. Youth's socioeconomic attainment does not erase the persistent influences of early community adversity and African American racial status on CVD risk. However, the level of education attained can protect African American young adults and those experiencing early community adversity from CVD risk factors.

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