UW Communications: New study from Lauren Schmitz finds that childhood deprivation leads to faster aging later in life

November 21, 2023, by Tommy Jaime

By using advanced epigenetic aging techniques and new data from older adults, a team of researchers found that being deprived of a nurturing childhood environment is associated with accelerated biological aging at older ages.

Led by Lauren Schmitz, a professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the researchers recently published their findings in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

A photo portrait of Lauren Schmitz

Lauren Schmitz

“Although previous research has shown a relationship between early life adversity and epigenetic age acceleration among children, this study is among the first to connect the biological age of older adults with these types of early life experiences,” Schmitz says. “This could be an important insight into how childhood experiences may contribute to our mortality risk.”

This study used DNA samples and interview data from 842 adults between ages 55 and 94. It looked at generally accepted measures of early life adversity known as threat and deprivation…

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