Cumulative social risk exposure in childhood and smoking and excessive alcohol use in adulthood.
European Journal of Public Health 2016 ; 26: 575-81.
DOI : 10.1093/eurpub/ckv243
PubMed ID : 26847204
PMCID : PMC5548232
Social inequalities in adult smoking and excessive alcohol intake may be associated with exposure to multiple childhood social risk factors across different domains of risk within the household.
We used data from a cross-sectional cohort study of adults (40-75 years) in 1993-97 living in England (N = 19466) to examine the association between clusters of childhood social risks across different domains with adult smoking and excessive alcohol use. Participants reported exposure to six childhood social risk factors, current smoking behaviour and alcohol intake. Factor analysis was used to identify domains of social risk. We created a childhood cumulative domain social risk score (range 0-2) from summing the total number of domains.
Factor analysis identified two domains of childhood social risk within the household: maladaptive family functioning (parental unemployment, substance misuse, physical abuse) and parental separation experiences : maternal separation, divorce, being sent away from home). Compared to those children with risk exposure in no single domain, children with risk exposure in both domains (i.e. maladaptive family functioning, parental separation experiences) had a higher prevalence of adult smoking [men: Prevalence ratio (PR) = 1.74, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.35-2.26; women: PR = 1.71 95% CI: 1.34-2.18]. There was a trend association between the number of childhood social risk domains and adult smoking (both sexes: P < 0.001) and excessive alcohol use (men: P <0.008).
Further work is needed to understand if addressing cumulative risk exposure to maladaptive family functioning and parental separation experiences can reduce social inequalities in adult smoking and excessive alcohol intake.