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Social isolation in childhood and adult inflammation: evidence from the National Child Development Study

Lacey, RE; Kumari, M; Bartley, M; (2014) Social isolation in childhood and adult inflammation: evidence from the National Child Development Study. Psychoneuroendocrinology 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.08.007. Green open access

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Abstract

Background Social isolation is known to be associated with poorer health amongst adults, including coronary heart disease. It is hypothesized that this association may be mediated by inflammation. There has been little prospective research on the long-term impact of social isolation in childhood on adult health or the pathways which might be involved. The aim of this study was to investigate whether social isolation in childhood is associated with increased adult inflammation and the mechanisms involved across the life course. Methods This study used multiply-imputed data on 7,462 participants of the National Child Development Study in Great Britain. The association between child social isolation (7-11 yrs) and levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in middle age (44 yrs) was examined. We additionally investigated the role of adult social isolation, psychological distress, health behaviors and socioeconomic factors as potential mediators using path analysis and concurrent measurements made across the life course. Results Socially isolated children had higher levels of C-reactive protein in mid-life (standardized coefficient= 0.05, p≤0.001). In addition children who were socially isolated tended to have lower subsequent educational attainment, be in a less advantaged social class in adulthood, were more likely to be psychologically distressed across adulthood and were more likely to be obese and to smoke. All of these factors partially explained the association between childhood social isolation and CRP. However this association remained statistically significant after considering all mediators simultaneously. Conclusions Social isolation in childhood is associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein in mid-life. This is explained in part through complex mechanisms acting across the life course. Identification and interventions targeted towards socially isolated children may help reduce long-term adult health risk.

Type: Article
Title: Social isolation in childhood and adult inflammation: evidence from the National Child Development Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.08.007
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.08.007
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Social isolation, NCDS, cohort study, life course, inflammation, path analysis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1443082
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