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Early-Life Adversity Associated With Accelerated Biological Aging

Links vary by adversity type; threat-related early-life adversity tied to accelerated pubertal development

MONDAY, Aug. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Early-life adversity (ELA) is associated with accelerated biological aging, although the associations vary as a function of adversity type, according to a review published online Aug. 3 in the Physiological Bulletin.

Natalie L. Colich, Ph.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues examined the association between ELA involving threat and accelerated biological aging across multiple metrics. A total of 54 studies with 116,010 individuals examining associations of ELA with pubertal timing and cellular aging were included in a meta-analysis, and 25 studies with 3,253 individuals assessing ELA and neural markers of accelerated development were included in a systematic review to assess whether associations between ELA and biological aging vary according to the nature of adversity.

The researchers found that ELA was associated with accelerated pubertal timing and cellular aging, but these associations varied with type of adversity. ELA characterized by threat was associated with accelerated pubertal developmental and accelerated cellular aging, while there was no association noted for deprivation and socioeconomic status (SES) with accelerated development. Associations were identified between ELA and accelerated cortical thinning; threat-related ELA was consistently linked to thinning in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex; thinning in the frontoparietal, default, and visual networks was seen in association with deprivation and SES.

"These findings suggest specific associations of dimensions of ELA with multiple domains of biological aging and highlight the importance of delineating the mechanisms through which specific types of early environmental experiences influence different aspects of biological aging in childhood and adolescence and determining how these pathways ultimately contribute to health disparities," the authors write.

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