Emotional and behavioural problems in childhood and risk of overall and cause-specific morbidity and mortality in middle-aged Finnish men

Laura Anniina Kauhanen, Janne Leino, Hanna-Maaria Lakka, John William Lynch, Jussi Kauhanen


Background Psychosocial problems in childhood affect the health in adulthood. Few studies have examined the influence of psychosocial problems in childhood with regard to cancer mortality, all-cause mortality and cardiovascular morbidity and alcohol-associated mortality. The purpose of this study was to investigate psychosocial, emotional, and conduct problems in childhood as a predictor of cancer, all-cause and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and alcohol-associated morbidity from historical information. Methods The subjects were male participants from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), a population-based cohort study in eastern Finland with follow-up until 2002. Data on psychosocial problems in childhood were collected from school health records (n=952), mainly from the 1930s to 1950s. Adulthood risk data were obtained from baseline examinations in 1984-1989. Results Men who had psychosocial problems in childhood had a 2.26-fold (95% CI 1.15 to 4.43) age- and examination-year adjusted risk of cancer death. After adjustment for biological and behavioural risk factors and for the socioeconomic position both in childhood and adulthood the association remained. Cancer mortality (lung cancer deaths excluded), and alcohol-associated diseases showed also elevated risk, but the results were not statistically significant. Conduct problems in childhood were associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality in adulthood. Conclusions Our findings suggest that psychosocial problems in childhood are associated with increased risk of cancer mortality in adulthood mainly through life-style factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption.


cancer; cardiovascular disease; mortality; population studies; psychosocial factors

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14301/llcs.v2i2.49

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