Dec 1: A Finnish
study coordinated by the Centre for Population Health Research at the
University of Turku shows that cumulative adverse psychosocial factors in
childhood are associated with worse midlife learning and memory, and
specifically a child’s self-regulation and social adjustment.
Along with the
aging population, the prevalence of cognitive deficits is growing. Thus,
revealing the role of various exposures beginning from childhood is important
in order to bring tools for cognitive health promotion. An adverse psychosocial
environment in childhood may harm cognitive development, but the associations
for adulthood cognitive function remain obscure. Results from a longitudinal
Finnish study show that unfavorable childhood psychosocial factors may link to
poorer learning and memory in midlife.
evidence on adverse psychosocial factors and cognitive outcomes comes mainly
from either short-term or retrospective long-term studies focusing on a single
psychosocial factor or adversity. This study is one of the first prospective
longitudinal studies focusing on the associations between multiple childhood
psychosocial factors and adulthood cognitive function,” says Doctoral
Researcher Amanda Nurmi from the Centre for Population Health
Research at the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital.
performance was measured at the age of 34–49 years. Of over 2,000 participants
with cognitive function data, 1,191 also had complete data on childhood
psychosocial factors from childhood. Socioeconomic and emotional environment,
parental health behaviours, stressful events, self-regulation, and social
adjustment were queried in the baseline. The results suggest that the accumulation
of unfavorable psychosocial factors in childhood may associate with poorer
cognitive function in midlife. Specifically, poor self-regulatory behavior and
social adjustment in childhood associated with poorer learning ability and
memory approximately 30 years later.
of our study can be leveraged to develop targeted interventions directed
towards those families with cumulative adverse psychosocial factors.
Interventions towards promoting a better psychosocial environment in childhood
might have carry-over associations on cognitive function and thus be reflected
also in future generations via parenting attitudes,” Nurmi says.
is part of the ongoing national Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study
coordinated by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular
Medicine at the University of Turku. Initially, 3,596 participants have been
followed up repeatedly for 31 years for their health, psychosocial,
cardiovascular and lifestyle factors from childhood to adulthood.