Early life stress and frailty in old age: the Helsinki birth cohort study

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BMC Geriatrics. 2018 Aug 13;18(1):179

Title: Early life stress and frailty in old age: the Helsinki birth cohort study
Author: Haapanen, M. J; Perälä, M. M; Salonen, M. K; Kajantie, E.; Simonen, M.; Pohjolainen, P.; Pesonen, A. K; Räikkönen, K.; Eriksson, J. G; von Bonsdorff, M. B
Publisher: BioMed Central
Date: 2018-08-13
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/238735
Abstract: Abstract Background Evidence suggests that early life stress (ELS) may extend its effect into adulthood and predispose an individual to adverse health outcomes. We investigated whether wartime parental separation, an indicator of severe ELS, would be associated with frailty in old age. Methods Of the 972 participants belonging to the present sub-study of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, 117 (12.0%) had been evacuated abroad unaccompanied by their parents in childhood during World War II. Frailty was assessed at a mean age of 71 years according to Fried’s criteria. Results Thirteen frail men (4 separated and 9 non-separated) and 20 frail women (2 separated and 18 non-separated) were identified. Compared to the non-separated men, men who had been separated had an increased relative risk ratio (RRR) of frailty (age-adjusted RRR 3.93, 95% CI 1.02, 15.11) that persisted after adjusting for several confounders. No associations were observed among women (RRR 0.62; 95% CI 0.13, 2.94). Conclusions These preliminary results suggest that ELS might extend its effects not just into adulthood but also into old age, and secondly, that men may be more vulnerable to the long-term effects of ELS.
Subject: Early life stress
Natural experiment
Risk factor
Rights: The Author(s).

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