Neighborhood Poverty in Childhood Increases Risk for Death by Unnatural Causes

The degree of neighborhood poverty in early childhood is significantly associated with death by unnatural causes in early adulthood, according to a study published online Feb. 23 in JAMA Network Open.

Kimberly B. Roth, Ph.D., from the Mercer University School of Medicine in Savannah, Georgia, and colleagues examined whether childhood factors are associated with death from unnatural causes through midadulthood in a longitudinal cohort study. Longitudinal data were available for 2,180 participants who were in first grade in 1985 to 1986 and were followed up to midadulthood through Dec. 31, 2020. Exposures included individual factors, family and peer factors, and neighborhood factors.

Overall, 111 male participants (10.2 percent) and 29 female participants (2.7 percent) died; of these, 96 male and 14 female participants died of unnatural causes. The researchers observed significant associations for two factors with mortality from unnatural causes: Female sex was associated with a reduced risk, while increased risk was seen in association with neighborhood public assistance (hazard ratios, 0.13 and 1.89, respectively).

“To make long-term gains in reducing health disparities, efforts targeting concentrated neighborhood-level poverty in childhood should be a priority,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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