“Natural experiments to study the impact of early life shocks on long term health”, “Multimorbidity Trajectories across Aging European Cohorts” and “Socioeconomic position under the microscope”

Room 15, Associated Center Gregorio Marañón (Lavapiés), Calle Argumosa, 3, Madrid

May 30, 2023

June 12, 2023


19.00-20:30 CET

“Natural experiments to study the impact of early life shocks on long term health”
The use of natural experiments has a long tradition in epidemiology and is now increasingly being advocated in economics. While still presenting methodological challenges, natural experiments can have significant advantages over traditional observational studies as differences in treatment arising from the natural experiment can be more specifically defined.Studies of early famine shocks and long-term health offer special opportunities to study potential impacts because in some settings the timing and intensity of the exposure together with specific health outcomes can be defined with some accuracy. This will be illustrated by work on the Ukraine Holomodor famine in 1932-34, the Dutch Hunger Winter famine in 1944-45, and the China Great Leap Forward famine in 1959-61. These famines differed widely in terms of political background, intensity, and duration but from currently available information point to a similar impact on selected long term health outcomes.

“Multimorbidity Trajectories across Aging European Cohorts”
Rising rates of multimorbidity (the presence of two or more chronic diseases) among older adults is among the most salient population health trends in high-income contexts. Combined with population aging, the growth in multimorbidity has important implications for individuals, caregivers, and health care systems. In addition, recent research, mostly focused on the US, has found that more recent cohorts of older adults are experiencing worse health than their peers from earlier cohorts did at equivalent ages. This includes higher levels of mortality and higher rates of functional limitation and multimorbidity. The present study expands on this growing literature utilizing data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA) and the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to examine inter-cohort trends in multimorbidity in England and Europe.

“Socioeconomic position under the microscope”
Individuals of lower socioeconomic position (SEP) develop diseases earlier and die earlier on average compared with their more advantaged counterparts. They will spend a larger proportion of their fewer years in illness and disability, The damaging effects of low SEP can be seen in every major system of the body which suggests that there may be common biological mechanism(s) underlying the increased risk of disease. This talk will explore candidate mechanisms through which SEP gets transduced at a more fundamental cellular and molecular level to accelerate biological ageing of the socially disadvantaged using a plethora of biological ageing metrics including allostatic load, telomeres, and the epigenetic clocks. Drawing upon data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), it will address issues such as whether the timing of deprivation matters, whether the duration of deprivation matters, and whether a change in socioeconomic circumstances can ameliorate the impact of early deprivation on the biological ageing signature.

Dr. Bertie Lumey (May 30)

is Professor of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center. He was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study at Columbia University where he obtained MPH and PhD degrees in epidemiology. After returning to the Netherlands, Dr Lumey worked at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam and the National Institute for Public Health and Environmental Protection RIVM. He later joined the American Health Foundation in New York and was Director of the New York City Perinatal HIV Transmission Collaborative Study before being recruited to the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia. Over the last decades, Dr Lumey completed a number of single and multi-generation cohort studies worldwide to investigate the relation between maternal nutrition in pregnancy and health outcomes in the offspring. These studies include men and women exposed to malnutrition during the Ukraine famine of 1932-33, the Dutch famine of 1944-45, and the Chinese famine of 1959-61. He has reported extensively on morbidity and mortality, including birth outcomes, infant growth, and adult health, including epigenetic changes. With collaborators in Leiden, he published in 2008 the first study in humans linking prenatal famine to persisting epigenetic changes in DNA methylation of the IGF2 gene. Further studies in the Dutch famine population show that DNA methylation could be an epigenetic mediator of the impact of prenatal nutrition on adult health.

Dr. Steven Haas (May 30)

is a Associate Professor of Sociology and Demography at Pennsylvania State University. His research addresses questions that lie at the intersection of social stratification, and the demography of health and aging. In particular his research investigates health as both a cause and a consequence of social stratification processes with particular interests in the processes that produce health disparities over the life course. Prior research projects have explored the social influence and peer selection processes around adolescent smoking using dynamic social network models, international differences in educational gradients in health, the relative contribution of early life versus adult factors in determining of trajectories of aging and disability, and the mechanisms linking adolescent health to educational outcomes and labor market success in both national and international contexts.  Recent work has explored the socioeconomic determinants of cognitive aging and the long-term health impacts of exposure to war during childhood.

Dr. Cathal McCrory (June 12)

is Associate Professor (Psychology) of Life Course Development and Ageing in the Department of Medical Gerontology. He leads the Behavioural and Social Sciences group within TILDA. His research explores the pathways, processes and mechanisms through which socially mediated risk factors come to influence health over the life-course, with a particular emphasis on stress. Psychosocial frameworks postulate that those growing in more disadvantaged environments are subjected to a greater number of stressors during development resulting in greater ‘wear and tear’ on physiological systems (i.e. allostatic load) which may precipitate earlier biological ageing. Understanding how differences in the social environment ‘get under the skin’ is a major focus of his work. His research utilizes population-level data to explore the extent to which differences in exposure to stressors can account for disease and mortality differentials between different social groups, leading to the identification of modifiable risk and resilience factors.