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Nettle D.2014. What the future held: Childhood psychosocial adversity is associated with health deterioration through adulthood in a cohort of British women. PeerJ PrePrints2:e213v2https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.213v2
Childhood psychosocial adversity is associated with accelerated onset of reproductive effort in women. Adaptive explanations for this phenomenon are built on the assumption that greater childhood psychosocial adversity is statistically associated with having a shorter period of healthy adult life during which reproduction will be possible. However, this critical assumption is never actually tested using individual-level longitudinal data. In this study, I revisit a large, longitudinally-studied cohort of British women. In an earlier paper, we showed that a simple index of psychosocial adversity in the first seven years of life predicted age at first pregnancy in a dose-dependent manner. Here, I show that the same index of adversity also predicts accelerated deterioration of health across the potentially reproductive period, and increased levels of the inflammatory biomarker c-reactive protein at age 44-46. These associations are robust to controlling for adult socioeconomic position, and do not appear to be solely a consequence of accelerated reproductive schedule. I argue that childhood psychosocial adversity may cause latent somatic damage that will, in adulthood, accelerate age-related physical decline. This provides a compelling adaptive rationale for the accelerated reproductive schedules observed in women who experience childhood psychosocial adversity.
This version includes better statistical analysis and a clearer and more extensive discussion of the rationale for the study and the particular analyses employed.
Supporting information on data sources and analyses