Early Life Disadvantage and the Risk of Depressive Symptoms among Young Black Women

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J Racial Ethn Health Disparities


OVERVIEW: We examined the association between early-life socioeconomic disadvantage and depressive symptoms in adulthood and assessed whether social factors in adulthood modify the association.

METHODS: The 11-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) assessed adult depressive symptoms among 1612 Black women and other participants with a uterus (hereafter participants) in the Study of Environment, Lifestyle and Fibroids. Baseline self-reported childhood factors (i.e., parents in the household, mother's educational attainment, food insecurity, neighborhood safety, childhood income, and quiet bedroom for sleep) were included in a latent class analysis to derive an early life disadvantage construct. Multivariable log-binomial models estimated the association between early life disadvantage and adult depressive symptoms. Potential effect modifiers included adult educational attainment, social support, and financial difficulty.

RESULTS: Participants classified as having high early life disadvantage had 1.34 times (95% CI: 1.20, 1.49) the risk of high depressive symptoms than those in the low early life disadvantage class after adjusting for age, first born status, and childhood health. Adult educational attainment and social support modified the association.

CONCLUSION: Early life disadvantage increased the risk of depressive symptoms in adulthood. Participants with at least some college education and with high social support had greater risk than those with less than college education and low social support, respectively. Thus, the mental health of Black women and other participants with a uterus exposed to early life disadvantage do not necessarily benefit from higher education or from social support.

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ePub ahead of print