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Socioeconomic position in childhood and adult cardiovascular risk factors, vascular structure, and function: cardiovascular risk in young Finns study
  1. M Kivimäki1,*,
  2. G Davey Smith2,
  3. M Juonala3,
  4. J E Ferrie4,
  5. L Keltikangas-Järvinen1,
  6. M Elovainio1,
  7. L Pulkki-Råback1,
  8. J Vahtera5,
  9. M Leino3,
  10. J S A Viikari6,
  11. O T Raitakari7
  1. 1Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  3. 3Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  4. 4University College London Medical School, London, UK
  5. 5Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  6. 6Department of Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  7. 7Department of Clinical Physiology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Mika Kivimäki
    Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 9, FIN-00014 Helsinki, Finland; mika.kivimaki{at}


Objective: To examine the association of childhood socioeconomic position (SEP) with adult cardiovascular risk factors, vascular structure, and vascular function in a contemporary population of young adults.

Design: Population based prospective cohort study with baseline assessment in 1980.

Setting: Finland.

Participants: 856 men and 1066 women whose childhood SEP was determined by parental occupational status (manual, lower non-manual, upper non-manual) at age 3–18 years.

Main outcome measures: Cardiovascular risk factors, carotid artery intima–media thickness, and brachial artery flow mediated vasodilatation, assessed at age 24–39 years.

Results: After adjustment for age and adult SEP, systolic pressure was 2.3 mm Hg higher (p  =  0.0002), high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol 0.03 mmol/l lower (p  =  0.02), and insulin resistance score (homeostasis model assessment index) 0.12 units greater (p  =  0.05) among men; and systolic pressure was 1.3 mm Hg higher (p  =  0.02), diastolic pressure 1.1 mm Hg higher (p  =  0.01), and height 1.1 cm lower (p < 0.0001) among women for each step down the childhood SEP hierarchy. Lower childhood SEP was associated with a 20% increase in the odds of having a waist circumference > 102 cm in men and > 88 cm in women (overall p  =  0.05). Childhood SEP was not associated with intima–media thickness, flow mediated vasodilatation, the metabolic syndrome, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, body mass index, alcohol consumption, or smoking.

Conclusions: Among adults under 40, low childhood SEP predicted higher blood pressure and central obesity and, among men, unfavourable HDL cholesterol and insulin resistance, independent of current SEP. No independent effects were found on adult vascular structure, vascular function, or health related behaviours at this life stage.

  • CVD, cardiovascular disease
  • HDL, high density lipoprotein
  • HOMA, homeostasis model assessment
  • LDL, low density lipoprotein
  • SEP, socioeconomic position
  • socioeconomic status
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • atherosclerosis
  • endothelial function
  • risk factors

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  • * Also the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland

  • Published Online First 13 September 2005

  • The funding sources were not involved in either the submission of the manuscript nor the decision to publish the data. None of the authors has any financial disclosures.

  • Competing interests: None declared

  • This study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki and the study protocol was approved by local ethics committees. All participants gave their informed consent.