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Missed meals in childhood linked to pain, depression in adulthood

Washington: Children who missed meals can not only have problem concentrating in school, they may also have a higher risk of experiencing pain and depression in adulthood, a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study has suggested.

Depression and chronic pain are experienced by 44 percent of working-aged adults and the study shows a correlation between childhood conditions and pain and depression in adulthood.

The study by UNL sociologist Bridget Goosby examines how childhood socio-economic disadvantages and maternal depression increase the risk of major depression and chronic pain in working-aged adults.

Goosby examined a survey of 4,339 adults from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication looking for a relationship between circumstances in childhood and physical and mental health in working-age adults. She specifically looked at data from adults 25 to 64 years old.

Goosby said she was surprised to find that experiencing hunger in childhood can lead to chronic pain and depression in adulthood.

"The most robust child socio-economic condition was experiencing hunger. Kids who missed meals have a much higher risk of experiencing pain and depression in adulthood," Goosby said.

The study also found that maternal depression had a correlation with adults having depression later in life.

In the study, Goosby noted that those who grew up with parents with less than 12 years of education had a much higher risk of experiencing chronic pain compared to adults with more highly educated parents, a disparity that becomes evident after age 42 and grew larger over time.

With this information, Goosby said she hopes policymakers will pay attention to creating more healthy family dynamics in society and that the study`s results will give policymakers a reason to examine circumstances in early childhood more closely.

The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior .


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