3 years ago

Early life predictors of midlife allostatic load: A prospective cohort study

Ellen Garde, Åse Marie Hansen, Jolene Masters Pedersen, Erik Lykke Mortensen, Trine Flensborg-Madsen, Dinne Skjærlund Christensen

Allostatic load has been suggested as a pathway through which experiences become biologically embedded to influence health. Research on childhood predictors of allostatic load has focused on socioeconomic and psychosocial exposures, while few studies include prospective measures of biomedical exposures. Further, findings on sex differences in the association of childhood predictors with various health outcomes related to allostatic load are ambiguous.


To examine the influence of early life biomedical and social factors in the first year of life on midlife allostatic load, assessing potential sex differences.


This prospective cohort study includes early life information collected at birth and a one year examination for 1,648 members of the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort who also participated in the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank study (aged 49–52 years, 56% women). Allostatic load based on 14 biomarkers was selected as a measure of midlife health status. Early life factors were categorized as predominantly biomedical or social, and their associations with midlife allostatic load were examined in domain-specific and combined sex-stratified multiple regression models.


The biomedical factors model explained 6.6% of the variance in midlife allostatic load in men and 6.7% in women, while the social model explained 4.1% of the variance in men and 7.3% in women. For both sexes, parental socioeconomic position at one year and maternal BMI significantly predicted midlife allostatic load in a model containing all early life factors. For women, additional significant predictors were complications at birth, birth weight and not living with parents at one year.


The results confirm an association of lower childhood socioeconomic position with higher adult allostatic load while demonstrating the importance of other prenatal and early life exposures and highlighting potential sex differences.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202395

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