Early adversity and health outcomes in young adulthood: The role of ongoing stress
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Objective: The current study examined the prospective effects of exposure to stressful conditions in early childhood on physical health in young adulthood, and explored continuing exposure to stressors, as well as depression, in adolescence as possible mechanisms of this relationship. Method: A prospective longitudinal design was used to examine 705 mother-child pairs from a community-based sample, followed from offspring birth through age 20 years. Mothers provided contemporaneous assessments of early adverse conditions from offspring birth through age 5. Offspring responses to the UCLA Life Stress Interview, Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders, Physical Functioning subscale of the SF-36 Health Survey, and questions about the presence of chronic disease were used to assess youth stress at age 15, depression from ages 15-20, and physical health at age 20. Results: Early adversity conferred risk for elevated levels of social and nonsocial stress at youth age 15, as well as depression between ages 15 and 20. Social and nonsocial stress, in turn, had effects on physical health at age 20, directly and indirectly via depression. Conclusion: Findings suggest that early adverse conditions have lasting implications for physical health, and that continued exposure to increased levels of both social and nonsocial stress in adolescence, as well as the presence of depression, might be important mechanisms by which early adversity impacts later physical health.
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified