Emotional and instrumental support during childhood and biological dysregulation in midlife

Natalie Slopen*, Ying Chen, Naomi Priest, Michelle A. Albert, David R. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)

    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)90-96
    Number of pages7
    JournalPreventive Medicine
    Volume84
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

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