Posted on Oct 02, 2009, 6 a.m.
Swedish study reveals that sixth graders shunned by peers are hospitalized more often as adults.
In that we establish social statuses early in life, a Swedish team analyzed the associations between childhood social status in school (peer status) and disease trends in adulthood. Ylva Almquist, from the Centre for Health Equity Studies (Sweden), and colleagues analyzed data from The Stockholm Birth Cohort Study (conducted from 1953 to 2003). Peer status was sociometrically assessed in 6th grade (1966), and the team calculated adult disease-specific morbidity based on records of in-patient care (1973-2003). The researchers found that the lower the childhood peer status, the higher the overall adult disease risk. That is, when the students had matured into 50-year-olds, those who were in the "marginalized" and "peripheral" groups in the sixth grade were more likely than their peers to have ever been hospitalized for mental or behavioral disorders. Specifically, those who had been in the "marginalized" group in sixth grade were about twice as likely to have been hospitalized for those reasons as people who were "favorites" in sixth grade. Explaining that: “The present study underscores the importance of recognizing children's social position, apart from that of their family, for later health,” the researchers submit the notion that: “health-related behavior may be one important mechanism in the association between peer status and morbidity.”
Ylva Almquist. “Peer status in school and adult disease risk: A 30-year follow-up study of disease-specific morbidity in a Stockholm cohort.” J Epidemiol Community Health, Sep 2009; doi:10.1136/jech.2009.088377