Background

Living in conditions that are associated with low socioeconomic status, single-parent households, lack of education and unemployment can influence stress. Those stressors can lead to chronic illness such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and mental health issues. Allostatic load (ALoad) is a physiological measure of chronic stress that captures an individual's response to burdensome life events such as unemployment, food insecurity, and limited access to healthcare. Recent studies suggest that socioeconomic neighborhood disadvantage (NHD) may be a source of chronic stress. The purpose of this study was to test whether neighborhood disadvantage (NHD) was associated with stress (measured by ALoad) in children, and if such association differed by ethnicity.

Methods

A sample of 223 African American(AA), Hispanic American (HA), and European American (EA) children and their parents. Participants completed a 10-item questionnaire on how they perceived their neighborhood. ALoad were obtained in children from seven biomarkers.Partial correlation analysis and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) were used.

Results

Among the total sample, the mean of the parenteral NHD and ALoad were 20.58 ± 3.07, and 1.74 ± 1.43, respectively. The significant differences in parental NHD and ALoad scores in children by race/ethnicity (p=0.05). Significant correlation was found when controlling for SES and race/ethnicity on the relationship between NHD and ALoad (p=0.033).AA showed higher levels of NHD when compared to EA and HA (p=0.0001).

Conclusions

Increased exposure to NHD as perceived by the parents appears to influence ALoad in children and this relationship varies according to race/ethnicity.