Seeking Evidence for Finch and Crimmins’s Hypothesis of Inflammatory Exposure: The Effect of Canton of Birth on Costa Rican Elderly’s Health.

Gilbert Brenes, University of Wisconsin at Madison and Central American Center for Population

In order to explain the secular decline in mortality due to cardiovascular illnesses, Finch and Crimmins (2004) propose that exposure to infectious diseases early in life increases the risk of chronic inflammation through the life course. This paper seeks evidence for this hypothesis with data from a Costa Rican aging study, called CRELES. This country is ideal for studying the hypothesis because it has recently achieved very high life expectancy, but its current elderly population experienced a highly infectious environment early in life. The hypothesis is tested by studying the association of a highly infectious environment early in life with prevalence of chronic conditions, mortality, and biomarkers linked to inflammation. We find no conclusive evidence for Finch and Crimmins’ hypothesis, because the measure for early inflammatory exposure is only associated with diabetes biomarker and hypertension. Results seem to provide evidence for Barker’s hypothesis of early life programming of chronic diseases.

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Presented in Session 133: Life Course Perspectives on Health: Effects of Early Environments