STUDY OBJECTIVES--The aim was to examine the influence of domestic crowding and household amenities in early life on later mortality from all causes and specifically from stomach cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and rheumatic heart disease. DESIGN--This was a retrospective cohort study of people whose houses had been surveyed in 1936 and whose household size was known from the 1939 census. Subjects were followed through the National Health Service Central Register from 1951 to 1989. SETTING--The housing survey had been carried out in the midland town of Chesterfield. SUBJECTS--Subjects comprised 8138 men and women born after 1900. RESULTS--A total of 2929 deaths were observed during the follow up period. All causes mortality in the full cohort was not consistently related to any of the housing variables examined, but among subjects who were still children at the time of the housing survey, death rates were higher in those whose houses were crowded or lacked a hot water tap. No associations could be shown between stomach cancer and domestic crowding or food storage facilities; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and domestic crowding or use of gas for cooking; or rheumatic heart disease and domestic crowding. There were few deaths from these causes, however, in subjects who were children at the time of housing survey. CONCLUSIONS--The findings suggest that the housing of young adults in Chesterfield during the 1930s had little effect on their later mortality. Further follow up of the cohort is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn about the influence of housing at younger ages.
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