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Impact of childhood and adulthood socioeconomic position on cause specific mortality: the Oslo Mortality Study
  1. B Claussen1,
  2. G Davey Smith2,
  3. D Thelle3
  1. 1Institute of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, UK
  3. 3Centralkliniken, Sahlgrenska Universitetssjukhuset, Gothenburg, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr B Claussen, Institute of General Practice and Community Medicine, PO Box 1130 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway;


Objective: To study the impact of childhood and adulthood social circumstances on cause specific adult mortality.

Design: Census data on housing conditions from 1960 and Personal Register income data for 1990 were linked to 1990–94 death registrations, and relative indices of inequality were computed for housing conditions in 1960 and for household income in 1990.

Participants: The 128 723 inhabitants in Oslo aged 31–50 years in 1990.

Main results: Adulthood mortality was strongly associated with both childhood and adulthood social circumstances among both men and women. Cardiovascular disease mortality was more strongly associated with childhood than with adulthood social circumstances, while the opposite was found for psychiatric and accidental/violent mortality. Smoking related cancer mortality was related to both adulthood and childhood social circumstances in men, but considerably more strongly to adult social circumstances.

Conclusions: Childhood social circumstances have an important influence on cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood. Current increases in child poverty that have been seen in Norway over the past two decades could herald unfavourable future trends in adult health.

  • social inequalities
  • Forsdahl-Barker hypothesis
  • mortality

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  • Funding: our institutions.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.