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High-Status Children More Likely to Be Healthier Adults

The lower a child's status among peers, the higher the risk of disease in later life

FRIDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children with the highest status among their peers are at lower risk for disease in adulthood, according to a study published online Sept. 29 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Ylva Almquist, of Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, analyzed data on 14,294 people who were born in Stockholm in 1953 and for whom data on their health in adult life was available. She calculated hazard ratios for disease-specific mortality based on inpatient care data from 1973 to 2003.

The data revealed that, independent of childhood social class, a child's status within his or her peer group was associated with overall disease risk in adult life, with the most striking association with mental and behavioral disorders, such as alcohol abuse and drug dependence; external causes such as suicide; and lifestyle-related diseases such as ischemic heart disease and diabetes.

"The results of this study, especially with regard to peer status being associated with such a wide range of morbidity outcomes, underline the need to understand how and why peer status has such a seemingly strong impact on health outcomes across the life course," the author writes. "This is an important area of research and policy-making, given that most children attend school for several years and are thus subjected to the social ordering of this micro-level social world."

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