Women with disadvantaged childhoods are more likely to have a heart problem later in life compared to men, says a study.
Researchers led by Jenifer Hamil-Luker, a post-doctoral fellow in sociology at Duke University, looked at data of nearly 10,000 people born between 1931 and 1941, reports public service newswire AScribe.
The data includes information on the participants' physical, mental, social and financial well-being going back to childhood.
They looked specifically at the risk of heart attack because the link between childhood poverty and cardiovascular disease in later life is particularly strong, and because heart attacks are so common.
Heart attacks and cardiovascular disease have been the leading cause of death among American men and women since 1919.
They found that women who grew up in poor homes were 15 percent more likely to have had a heart attack in their 50s than their counterparts who did not experience such disadvantages. The study found no such link for men.
In addition, women who grew up without a father were 12 percent more likely to have had a heart attack in their 50s; men who grew up in fatherless homes did not have an increased risk of heart attack.
Now that the link is established, Hamil-Luker said, more study is needed to better understand why men and women react differently to disadvantages in childhood, and the mechanism by which socio-economic environment and genetic predisposition interact to influence health.