Parental Divorce in Childhood and the Accelerated Epigenetic Aging for Earlier and Later Cohorts: Role of Mediators of Chronic Depressive Symptoms, Education, Smoking, Obesity, and Own Marital Disruption

TitleParental Divorce in Childhood and the Accelerated Epigenetic Aging for Earlier and Later Cohorts: Role of Mediators of Chronic Depressive Symptoms, Education, Smoking, Obesity, and Own Marital Disruption
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsKim, JK, Arpawong, TEm, Klopack, ET, Crimmins, EM
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Keywordschildhood adversities, Cohort Difference, DunedinPACE, Epigenetic aging
Abstract

We examine effects of parental divorce on epigenetic aging in later adulthood for two birth cohorts: one born in the early 20th century and the other born in the later 20th century. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 1,545), we examine the relationship between parental divorce in childhood and accelerated epigenetic aging in older adulthood as indicated by the Dunedin methylation Pace of Aging score. We assess how this relationship is mediated by chronic depressive symptoms, education, lifetime smoking, body mass index (BMI), and an older adult’s own divorce. The mean age of the earlier cohort is 85.8 (SD = 3.9) and that of the later cohort is 60.2 (SD = 2.8). We find that parental divorce was related to faster aging in the later-born cohort, and that 56% of this relationship (b = 0.060) was mediated by chronic depressive symptoms (b = 0.013), lower education levels (b = 0.005), and smoking (b = 0.019). For the earlier cohort, there was no effect of parental divorce on epigenetic aging. Parental divorce in childhood may have lasting effects on later-life health, as reflected in the rate of epigenetic aging. However, the effects and mechanisms of this relationship differ across cohorts living in different social environments. © 2023, The Author(s).

DOI10.1007/s12062-023-09434-5
Citation Key13607