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Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug;105(8):1596-603. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302644. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Life-Course Partnership Status and Biomarkers in Midlife: Evidence From the 1958 British Birth Cohort.

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George B. Ploubidis is with the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL - Institute of Education, University College London, London, UK. Richard J. Silverwood and Bianca DeStavola are with the Centre for Statistical Methodology, Department of Medical Statistics, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London. Emily Grundy is with the Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London.



We examined the association between trajectories of partnership status over the life course and objectively measured health indicators in midlife.


We used data from 4 waves (1981, 1991, 2000, and 2002-2004) of the British National Child Development Study (NCDS), a prospective cohort study that includes all people born in Britain during 1 week in March 1958 (n = 18 558).


After controlling for selection attributable to early-life and early-adulthood characteristics, we found that life-course trajectories of partnership status were associated with hemostatic and inflammatory markers, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and respiratory function in midlife. Never marrying or cohabiting was negatively associated with health in midlife for both genders, but the effect was more pronounced in men. Women who had married in their late 20s or early 30s and remained married had the best health in midlife. Men and women in cohabiting unions had midlife health outcomes similar to those in formal marriages.


Partnership status over the life course has a cumulative effect on a wide range of objectively measured health indicators in midlife.

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