New York, Feb 5: Men, who as children experienced a family member's incarceration, are approximately twice as likely to have a heart attack in later adulthood compared to those who were not exposed to any such trauma, warns a new study.
According to researchers, boys appear to be sensitive to adverse childhood experiences, in a study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice.
"The strong association we found between incarceration of family members during childhood and later heart attack among men aged 50 and older remained even after adjustments for many known risk factors for heart attack such as age, race, income, education, smoking, physical activity, obesity, high alcohol consumption, diabetes and depression," said lead author on the study Bradley White from Virginia Tech College of Science in the US.
For the study, data came from two national surveys: A 2011 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) sample with approximately 15,000 adults, and a 2012 BRFSS sample with more than 22,000 respondents.
However, based on prior studies, White said the vast majority of US prison inmates are men, most of whom are fathers to children under 18.
"The findings were very consistent in the two samples indicating a strong association for men and no association for women," said senior co-author Esme Fuller-Thomson from University of Toronto in Canada.
Boys appear to be particularly sensitive to adverse childhood experiences, Fuller-Thomson explained.
Psychosocial impact on boys whose fathers are incarcerated may be greater than for girls because boys and men are less likely to seek counselling following psychological traumas, and thus may have more difficulty coping, Fuller-Thomsom stated.
"Such factors might impact the relationship between exposure to family member incarceration and later heart attack risk," White added.