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Early Life & Chronic Disease

August 10, 2009

People who were poor early in life have a biological tendency towards inflammation – which could contribute to chronic diseases.


The long shadow of early poverty. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Poverty in early childhood may set you up for chronic disease later in life – even if you don’t stay poor. This according to University of British Columbia psychologist Greg Miller. He and his colleagues found that adults who were born into poverty were more prone to inflammation than people of wealthier origin.

GREG MILLER (University of British Columbia):
If this process persisted over many years, our suspicion is that it would make people more vulnerable to heart attacks, strokes, some forms of cancer, and some auto-immune diseases.

… Diseases that have been independently linked to inflammation. Miller notes that the effect was totally independent of adult socio-economic status. He says disproportionate exposure to germs, pollutants, and psychological stress may leave poor children’s bodies permanently hyper-vigilant. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.