Research press release


Nature Human Behaviour

Childhood risk factors predict adult economic burden


Avshalom CaspiおよびTerrie Moffittの研究チームは、複数の行政データベースを、1037人のニュージーランド人を3~38歳の期間に定期的に評価した出生コホート研究「ダニディン縦断研究」で得られたデータと関連づけた。その結果、成人後の経済的負担の約80%を人口のわずか20%に関連づけられること、またこの集団を早くも3歳の時点で高い精度で特定可能なことが分かった。この「高コスト」グループは、社会経済的に恵まれない環境で成長し、児童虐待を受け、小児期のIQテストの点数が低く、幼児期の自制心が弱い傾向があった。また今回の研究の結果、「高コスト」グループは刑法犯罪の81%、福祉給付の66%、薬剤処方の78%、過剰肥満の40%を占めることも判明した。


It is possible to predict, in childhood, the segment of the population that will go on to account for the largest portion of economically burdensome outcomes, such as welfare use, obesity or criminal activity, in adulthood, suggests a paper in Nature Human Behaviour. The study has implications for policymakers and health professionals who seek to fine-tune early-life interventions in order to reap positive results decades later.

Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt and colleagues linked multiple administrative databases with data from the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, a birth cohort study of 1,037 New Zealanders assessed regularly between the ages of 3 and 38 years old. The authors show that nearly 80% of adult economic burden can be attributed to just 20% of the population and that this group can be identified with high accuracy from as early as three years of age. They find that members of this ‘high cost’ group tended to have grown up in more socioeconomically deprived environments, experienced child maltreatment, scored poorly on childhood IQ tests and exhibited low childhood self-control. The authors also find that, in this study, the ‘high cost’ group accounted for 81% of criminal convictions, 66% of welfare benefits, 78% of prescription fills and 40% of excess obese kilograms.

As a majority of the ‘high cost’ group began life at a severe disadvantage, including a heavy handicap in brain health, the authors argue that these individuals should not be held responsible for their related economic burden. Instead, the authors suggest that ameliorating the effects of childhood disadvantage could have benefits for all members of society, with the study highlighting the potential for childhood interventions to improve adult health and social wellbeing, whilst also making large reductions in economic burden.

doi: 10.1038/s41562-016-0005

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