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Survey: A Bad Childhood Can Mean Bad Health in Adulthood

The results of a survey released Tuesday from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health reveal that people who are in low-income and educational brackets are five times as likely to have faced abuse in childhood than people in higher socio-economic brackets. The survey subjects were Allegheny County residents.

Researchers focused on African-Americans. African-Americans are 10 percent of the county but were 20 percent of the survey. Researchers looked at the effects of adverse childhood events on all types of health behaviors and outcomes.

Lead investigator Todd Bear said they looked at several demographic factors, such as race, age, income and disability status. They say that eliminating childhood abuse could significantly reduce serious mental illness and physical ailments such as heart disease, particularly in at-risk populations that already suffer with health disparities.

“What we’re finding is the causes of cardiovascular disease and serious mental illness are not only the things that we know like smoking and traumatic events but the risks start in early childhood during sensitive periods of development and they play themselves out over the life course or life span,” said Bear.

That an adverse childhood can cause problems in adulthood is well-known, but researchers say this data hadn’t been culled locally until this survey.

“If we want to make headway in reducing disparities in health, we really need to focus on early childhood environments,” said Bear. 

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