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Prev Med. 2016 Mar;84:90-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.12.003. Epub 2015 Dec 18.

Emotional and instrumental support during childhood and biological dysregulation in midlife.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Maryland College Park, United States. Electronic address: nslopen@umd.edu.
2
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, United States.
3
ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University, Australia.
4
Division of Cardiology, University of California at San Francisco, CA, United States.
5
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, United States; Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University, United States.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether greater emotional and instrumental support during childhood is associated with less dysregulation across multiple physiological systems in midlife.

METHODS:

Data are from participants in the second wave of the Midlife in the United States study (2004-2005) who participated in a clinic-based assessment of health status. Emotional and instrumental support was measured using a seven-item scale (α=0.89) based on participant retrospective self-report. Biological dysregulation was assessed using an allostatic load (AL) score constructed from 24 measures across seven physiological systems (N=1236, aged 34-84 years).

RESULTS:

Emotional and instrumental support in childhood was associated with lower AL in a monotonic fashion: compared to individuals in the lowest quartile of support, respondents in the second, third, and fourth quartiles had -0.08 (standard deviation (SD)=0.08), -0.13 (SD=0.08) and -0.21 (SD=0.08) units lower AL, adjusting for age, sex, and race. This pattern was maintained after adjustment for reporting bias, childhood socioeconomic disadvantage, past-year depression, and physician-diagnosed cardiovascular disease or diabetes (p≤0.01). The inflammation and metabolic-lipid subscales showed the strongest associations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Greater emotional and instrumental support in childhood was associated with less biological dysregulation in midlife, even after accounting for socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood and other potential confounders.

KEYWORDS:

Allostatic load; Childhood; Emotional support; Instrumental support; Life course; Parental support; Physiological dysregulation

PMID:
26708307
PMCID:
PMC4758867
[Available on 2017-03-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.12.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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