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Econ Hum Biol. 2013 Mar;11(2):178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2012.06.003. Epub 2012 Jul 22.

The association of adolescent socioeconomic position and adult height: variation across racial/ethnic groups.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, United States.


Numerous studies have demonstrated the association of childhood socioeconomic position and adult height. Many have suggested the use of adult height as a marker of overall childhood well-being. However, few studies have examined the relationship between child/adolescent socioeconomic position and adult height in a racially/ethnically diverse cohort. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examined the association of child/adolescent SEP (maternal education and maternal report of household income) and measured adult height in a diverse cohort of US adolescents/young adults. We found a positive gradient effect of maternal education on height in the overall population and in White and Mixed race males and females; no such gradient existed in Hispanic, Asian, or Black males or females. Only in Mixed race females was household income positively associated with height. These findings emphasize the need to recognize differential effects of socioeconomic status on height in different racial/ethnic and gender subpopulations.

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