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Thursday, May 28, 1998 Published at 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK

Health: Latest News

Poor youngsters face strokes and stomach cancer

Childhood deprivation may cause health problems in later life

A deprived childhood could increase the risk of stomach cancer or a stroke in later life.

Researchers have found that in general, children from poorer families carry health disadvantages into adulthood and are more likely to die young.

But some causes of death are more strongly linked to childhood circumstances than others.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say that deaths from stroke and stomach cancer are particularly strongly linked to childhood deprivation. The link appeared to be strong regardless of social and economic circumstances in later life.

The reason for these links is unclear. However the researchers believe children from deprived environments are more likely to become infected with the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori which is thought to be an important cause in stomach cancer.

Childhood infections

Other infections acquired in childhood have also been implicated in the risk of stroke.

[ image: Good living conditions are vital for young children]
Good living conditions are vital for young children
The study found that other major killers, such as coronary heart disease and respiratory disease are linked to social circumstances in both childhood and adulthood. Lung cancer was predominantly dependent on factors during adulthood.

The authors based their findings on a study of 5,766 men aged 35-64 in the West of Scotland.

They warn that the increase in child poverty seen in Britain over the last 20 years may herald unfavourable future trends in adult health.

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