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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biochemistry - Immunology - Mental Health - Non-Clinical Medicine - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology

Elevated C-Reactive Protein in Children from Risky Neighborhoods: Evidence for a Stress Pathway Linking Neighborhoods and Inflammation in Children
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Author: Stephanie T. Broyles et al.

by Stephanie T. Broyles, Amanda E. Staiano, Kathryn T. Drazba, Alok K. Gupta, Melinda Sothern, Peter T. Katzmarzyk

Background

Childhood socioeconomic status is linked to adult cardiovascular disease and disease risk. One proposed pathway involves inflammation due to exposure to a stress-inducing neighborhood environment. Whether CRP, a marker of systemic inflammation, is associated with stressful neighborhood conditions among children is unknown.

Methods and Results

The sample included 385 children 5–18 years of age from 255 households and 101 census tracts. Multilevel logistic regression analyses compared children and adolescents with CRP levels >3 mg/L to those with levels =3 mg/L across neighborhood environments. Among children living in neighborhoods (census tracts) in the upper tertile of poverty or crime, 18.6% had elevated CRP levels, in contrast to 7.9% of children living in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty and crime. Children from neighborhoods with the highest levels of either crime or poverty had 2.7 (95% CI: 1.2–6.2) times the odds of having elevated CRP levels when compared to children from other neighborhoods, independent of adiposity, demographic and behavioral differences.

Conclusions

Children living in neighborhoods with high levels of poverty or crime had elevated CRP levels compared to children from other neighborhoods. This result is consistent with a psychosocial pathway favoring early development of cardiovascular risk that involves chronic stress from exposure to socially- and physically-disordered neighborhoods characteristic of poverty.

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