Scientific article

Childhood exposure to hunger: associations with health outcomes in later life and epigenetic markers

Published inEpigenomics, vol. 12, no. 21, p. 1861-1870
Publication date2020

Aim: To assess associations of early exposure to hunger with depressive symptoms and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and to investigate possible epigenetic pathways. Patients & methods: Data were based on a German population-based cohort of older adults (n = 9631). Regression models were performed for health outcomes in later life. An epigenome-wide association study for early-life exposure to hunger was performed in a subgroup (n = 2221) with whole blood DNA methylation data. Results: Childhood exposure to hunger was associated with CVD and depressive symptoms in later life. Prenatal or infant exposure was strongly associated with depressive symptoms. No CpG reached epigenome-wide significance after multiple testing correction. Conclusion: Childhood hunger is a risk factor for depressive symptoms and CVD at older age. DNA methylation could not explain this association.

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Childhood hunger
  • Depressive symptoms
  • DNA methylation
  • Early-life adversity
  • Epigenetics
  • EWAS
  • German famine
  • Late-life depression
  • Older adults
Citation (ISO format)
PERNA, Laura et al. Childhood exposure to hunger: associations with health outcomes in later life and epigenetic markers. In: Epigenomics, 2020, vol. 12, n° 21, p. 1861–1870. doi: 10.2217/epi-2019-0333
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1750-1911

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