Study links childhood conditions to adult chronic pain, depression

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Food banks like the McCook Pantry are finding themselves more and more strapped to keep up with demand, and if Washington is unsuccessful in reaching a compromise, they'll be under even more pressure.

The United States has far more than enough food to feed itself and many other countries, but economic conditions leave too many families without food at the end of the day.

According to a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study, failure to address that problem now will result in mental and physical problems for generations to come.

The study showed a correlation between childhood hunger and a mother's depression and chronic pain and depression in working-age adults.

"Kids who missed meals have a much higher risk of experiencing pain and depression in adulthood," said UNL sociologist Bridget Goosby, who 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.

"Childhood conditions that are strongly correlated with the risk of experiencing depression in adulthood may, in fact, also be similar to the childhood conditions that are correlated with chronic pain in adulthood," Goosby said.

Looking for evidence that childhood disadvantages amplify the risk of experiencing chronic pain or depression in adulthood, Goosby found 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 grows larger over time.

"Adults with parents who have 12 or fewer years of education show substantially larger risks of experiencing chronic pain in adulthood compared to adults with more highly educated parents," Goosby said.

Policymakers at all levels are faced with unlimited demands for public resources and a public less and less willing to support runaway spending, especially at the federal level.

But the point needs to be made that doing what we can to improve family conditions today will pay off in healthier, more productive adults in the future.

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