A Prospective Study of Positive Early Life Psychosocial Factors and Favorable Cardiovascular Risk in Adulthood
Background—The American Heart Association's national goals for cardiovascular health promotion emphasize that cardiovascular risk originates early in life, but little is known about child factors that may increase the likelihood of having favorable cardiovascular risk (FCR) in adulthood. We examined the prospective association between positive child factors and likelihood of midlife FCR. We also considered pathways through which child factors may influence FCR.
Methods and Results—We studied 415 adults (mean age=42.2 years) of the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a national cohort initiated in 1959-1966. We examined three positive child factors assessed at age 7 years: attention regulation (ability to stay focused), cognitive ability and positive home environment. 10.6% had FCR in midlife. Adjusting for demographics and child cardiovascular health, a one unit increase in child attention regulation, cognitive ability and positive home environment was associated with 2.4 (95%CI: 1.1 to 4.7), 1.8 (95%CI: 1.1 to 2.9), and 1.3 (95%CI: 1.1 to 1.6) higher respective odds of having midlife FCR. The association with child attention regulation was maintained when accounting for adult factors; education and diet partly explained the associations with child cognitive ability and home environment. The effect of each attribute was additive as those with high levels of each child factor had 4.3 higher odds (95%CI: 1.01 to 18.2) of midlife FCR compared to those low in all factors.
Conclusions—Positive child psychosocial factors may promote healthy adult cardiovascular functioning. Primordial prevention efforts aimed at preventing the development of cardiovascular risk should consider building on child psychosocial resources.
- Received May 1, 2012.
- Accepted December 21, 2012.
- Copyright © 2013, Circulation