Childhood misfortune and handgrip strength among black, white, and Hispanic Americans

TitleChildhood misfortune and handgrip strength among black, white, and Hispanic Americans
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSmith, NR, Ferraro, KF, Kemp, BR, Morton, PM, Mustillo, SA, Angel, JL
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
ISSN Number1079-5014
KeywordsChildhood adversity, Disabilities, Older Adults, Racial/ethnic differences, Women and Minorities

Although early-life insults may affect health, few studies use objective physical measures of adult health. This study investigated whether experiencing misfortune during childhood is associated with handgrip strength (HGS) in later life.

Data on childhood misfortune and adult characteristics from the Health and Retirement Study were used to predict baseline and longitudinal change in HGS among White, Black, and Hispanic American men and women.

Regression analyses revealed that multiple indicators of childhood misfortune were related to HGS at baseline, but the relationships were distinct for men and women. Over the study, having one childhood impairment predicted steeper declines in HGS for men, but childhood misfortune was unrelated to HGS change among women. Hispanic Americans had lower baseline HGS than their non-Hispanic counterparts and manifested steeper declines in HGS.

The relationship between childhood exposures and adult HGS varied by the type of misfortune, but there was no evidence that the relationship varied by race/ethnicity. The significant and enduring Hispanic disadvantage in HGS warrants greater attention in gerontology.

Short TitleGERONB
Citation Key8808
PubMed ID27927743