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cardiovascular disease, early life adversity, life course, puberty, sex hormones, socioeconomic status



  1. Bleil, Maria E.
  2. Appelhans, Bradley M.
  3. Latham, Melissa D.
  4. Irving, Michelle A.
  5. Gregorich, Steven E.
  6. Adler, Nancy E.
  7. Cedars, Marcelle I.


Background: Socioeconomic adversity in early life is related to cardiovascular risk in adulthood; however, no studies have examined whether such adversity may be related to endogenous sex hormones, which are themselves associated with cardiovascular outcomes, or whether the timing of adversity exposures (childhood vs. puberty) matters.


Objective: The goal of the current study was to separately examine neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) during periods of childhood and puberty in relation to adulthood levels of endogenous sex hormones (estradiol [E2], testosterone), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and a derived index of bioavailable testosterone (free androgen index).


Methods: In a sample of 143 premenopausal women (mean age = 36.8 [SD = 5.5]; 51.7% White, 32.2% African American, 5.6% Latina, 7.0% Chinese, and 3.5% Filipina), retrospective reports of residential address information in designated periods of childhood and puberty were used to derive U.S. census-based neighborhood SES composite scores characterizing the socioeconomic environments of women during these periods.


Results: In covariate-adjusted analyses, higher neighborhood SES in puberty predicted higher levels of SHBG in adulthood, but neighborhood SES during childhood did not (standardized regression coefficient = .24, p = .01 vs. standardized regression coefficient = .04, p = .75, respectively). Neighborhood SES was not predictive of other hormones (E2, testosterone, and free androgen index).


Discussion: The current findings suggest that puberty may be a time of particular vulnerability to the effects of neighborhood SES on SHBG levels, which have been linked to cardiovascular risk factor profiles and atherosclerotic disease progression.