Psychology Magazine

Biology of Social Adversity.

By Deric Bownds

PNAS has done a special issue on the biology of adversity. I mention only a few of the articles here:
Ziol-Guest et al. show that low income, particularly in very early childhood (between the prenatal and second year of life), is associated with increases in early-adult hypertension, arthritis, and limitations on activities of daily living. Moreover, these relationships and particularly arthritis partially account for the associations between early childhood poverty and adult productivity as measured by adult work hours and earnings. The results suggest that the associations between early childhood poverty and these adult disease states may be immune-mediated.
McDade looks at studies of inflammatory processes involved in a wide range of chronic degenerative diseases in low income populations in the Philippines and lowland Ecuador that reveal now low levels of chronic inflammation, despite higher burdens of infectious disease, point to nutritional and microbial exposures in infancy as important determinants of inflammation in adulthood.
Hostinar et al. look at associations between early life adversity and executive function in children adopted internationally from orphanages, providing evidence that early life adversity is associated with significant reductions in executive function performance on a developmentally sensitive battery of laboratory executive fundtion tasks that measure cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control.


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