A new study undertaken in United Kingdom has pointed out that delinquency in childhood enhances the risk of premature death and disability in middle age.
This is the first study to examine how a wide range of early antisocial behaviours, as well as parental factors, affect various health outcomes 40 years later.
AdvertisementStudy's leader, Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Director of the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University in Wales, and colleagues found that among boys who engaged at age 10 in antisocial behaviour such as regularly skipping school or being rated troublesome or dishonest by teachers and parents, and who then went on to be convicted of a crime by the age of 18, 16.3percent (1 in 6) had died or become disabled by the age of 48.
That compared with 2.6 percent (1 in 40) of the boys from the same lower socio-economic South London neighbourhood who were not delinquent or offenders - an almost seven-fold difference.
"We were surprised to see such a strong link between these early influences and premature death and this indicates that things that happen in families at age 8-10 are part of a progression towards dying prematurely," said Shepherd.
"It was also surprising that the increase was not limited to substance abuse or other mental health problems known to be linked with an anti-social lifestyle, but included premature death and disability from a wide variety of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer.
"At this point, we don't know exactly why delinquency increases the risk of premature death and disability in middle age, but it seems that impulsivity - or lack of self-control - in childhood and adolescence was a common underlying theme. It may be that the stresses and strains of an antisocial lifestyle and having to deal with all the crises that could have been avoided with more self-control takes their toll. It fits with the biological evidence of the effects of chronic stress on illness." Shepherd added.
The study has been published in the December issue of the Journal of Public Health.