Influence of Care and Development in Infancy on Health and Educational Progress in Later Life

  • Michael E. J. Wadsworth
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 161)


A follow-up study of a national sample of 5362 children from birth so far to age 43 years provides the opportunity to look for longterm effects of infant and childhood experience. A chain of associations was found to link poor maternal care and breaks in the continuity of parenting with relatively poor educational attainment and, in men, low earned income. Conversely good maternal care and parental concern for education was associated with a significantly increased chance of good educational attainment, relatively high earned income in men and greater concern with stimulation and preschool education in the cohort’s own firstborn offspring. Children who grew up in a poor home environment were less likely to achieve their height growth potential, as predicted from their parent’s height, and more likely to experience worse respiratory health which, in turn, gave an increased risk of respiratory problems in adult life. Similarly, relatively high adult blood pressure was related to childhood circumstances through social class in childhood and low birthweight. It is suggested that many aspects of social inequalities in education and health have their origins in childhood.


Educational Attainment Birth Cohort Peak Expiratory Flow Rate Cohort Member Parental Divorce 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. J. Wadsworth
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.MRC National Survey of Health and DevelopmentUniversity College LondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Community MedicineThe Middlesex Hospital Medical SchoolLondonUK

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