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Impact of Early Parental Child-Rearing Behavior on Young Adults’ Cardiometabolic Risk Profile: A Prospective Study

Buchmann, Arlette F. PhD; Kopf, Daniel MD; Westphal, Sabine MD; Lederbogen, Florian MD; Banaschewski, Tobias MD, PhD; Esser, Günter PhD; Schmidt, Martin H. MD, PhD; Zimmermann, Ulrich S. MD; Laucht, Manfred PhD; Deuschle, Michael MD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181c88343
Original Articles

Objective: To examine prospectively whether early parental child-rearing behavior is a predictor of cardiometabolic outcome in young adulthood when other potential risk factors are controlled. Metabolic factors associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease have been found to vary, depending on lifestyle as well as genetic predisposition. Moreover, there is evidence suggesting that environmental conditions, such as stress in pre- and postnatal life, may have a sustained impact on an individual’s metabolic risk profile.

Methods: Participants were drawn from a prospective, epidemiological, cohort study followed up from birth into young adulthood. Parent interviews and behavioral observations at the age of 3 months were conducted to assess child-rearing practices and mother-infant interaction in the home setting and in the laboratory. In 279 participants, anthropometric characteristics, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, apolipoproteins, and triglycerides were recorded at age 19 years. In addition, structured interviews were administered to the young adults to assess indicators of current lifestyle and education.

Results: Adverse early-life interaction experiences were significantly associated with lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1 in young adulthood. Current lifestyle variables and level of education did not account for this effect, although habitual smoking and alcohol consumption also contributed significantly to cardiometabolic outcomes.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that early parental child-rearing behavior may predict health outcome in later life through its impact on metabolic parameters in adulthood.

MetS = metabolic syndrome; HDL = high-density lipoprotein; LDL = low-density lipoprotein; SGA = small for gestational age; SUQ = Substance Use Questionnaire; TLFB = timeline followback; BMI = body mass index.

From the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (A.F.B., T.B., M.H.S., M.L.), Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (D.K., F.L., M.D.), Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany; Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry (S.W.), Magdeburg University Hospital, Magdeburg, Germany; Department of Psychology (G.E., M.L.), Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany; and the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (U.S.Z.), University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Michael Deuschle, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, J 5, 68159 Mannheim, Germany. E-mail:

Received for publication July 2, 2009; revision received September 15, 2009.

This study was supported by grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research as part of the “Baden-Wuerttemberg Consortium for Addiction Research” and the “National Genome Research Network” (A.F.B., G.E., M.H.S., U.S.Z., M.L.).

Copyright © 2010 by American Psychosomatic Society
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