Early Origins of Health Disparities: Infectious Burden and Socioeconomic Status in U.S. Children

Jennifer Dowd, University of Michigan

Socioeconomic status is consistently associated with adult and child health. Recent work in biodemography suggests that life-time exposure to infection and inflammation may be an important determinant of later-life morbidity and mortality. Early exposure to infections during critical periods can predispose individuals to chronic disease, in part through the reallocation of energy away from growth needed for immune and inflammatory responses. Markers of inflammation are found to vary by socioeconomic status in adults(1, 2). Little is known about whether socioeconomic disparities in infectious burden and inflammation emerge at younger ages in the U.S.. This paper will use novel biomarker data to test whether the burden of common chronic infections such as Helicobacter Pylori (H Pylori) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is related to socioeconomic status in U.S. children ages 6 and older, and whether this infectious burden contributes to health gradients by SES in U.S. children.

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Presented in Session 8: Child Health and Wellbeing in Developed Countries