Low socio-economic status and fear of abandonment early in life can lead to poor health in adulthood, regardless of adult socio-economic status, suggests a new study at the Rice University. The study examined the self-reported measures of childhood socio-economic status, attachment orientations (such as fear of abandonment or difficulty in forming relationships), stress and adult health of 213 participants from 2005 to 2011.
It found that people who were in the lowest 25 percent of the sample for socio-economic status as children had 65 percent worse self-reported health as adults than people who were in the top 75 percent of the sample as children. The researchers noted that this poor health later in life occurred regardless of adult socio-economic status.
“Low socio-economic status places burdens on parents where they are less available to their kids at times,” he said. Co-author of the study Chris Fagundes said, “This can lead to the development of ‘attachment orientations’ – which include fear of abandonment or difficulty in forming close relationships – that can compromise adult health.”
Fagundes said the study is one of the first to examine how these attachment issues link early adversity and adult health. The team also found that a person’s biological capacity to regulate their emotions — including stress — had a correlation to overall health.
“If individuals are better at managing negative feelings and levels of stress, they are more likely to be healthy as adults. However, if they are not so good at managing emotions, they are more likely to be less healthy,” Murdock said.