Childhood Conditions and Multimorbidity Among Older Adults

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Abstract

Objectives:

This research tests whether childhood conditions are associated with trajectories of chronic conditions among older adults.

Methods:

Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (1992–2008), a series of hierarchical linear models are used to estimate number of chronic conditions at survey midpoint and the rate of increase in chronic conditions across 18 years of data.

Results:

Results suggest that lower childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and poor childhood health are associated with increased number of chronic conditions; however, childhood SES is no longer associated with chronic conditions after adjustment for adult SES and adult health. Poor childhood health continues to be associated with total number of chronic conditions after adjustment for adult SES and health. Rate of change in chronic conditions was not associated with childhood conditions. Results from a multinomial logistic regression model further indicated that the association between childhood conditions and adult multimorbidity increased at higher levels of multimorbidity.

Discussion:

This research adds to the evidence that early life conditions have a lasting influence on adult health, and that their influence may be independent of adult health and SES.

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