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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Research has shown that early life adversity can have implications for health later in life. Specifically, socioeconomic disadvantage, parental maltreatment, and parent divorce and death in childhood have been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and mortality in adulthood. Increasingly, recent research has focused on which factors can protect against these poor health outcomes and what promotes resilience, despite early life adversity. This chapter reviews research linking early life adversity to health, with a focus on highlighting the psychosocial factors that play this type of protective role. These factors include social and relational ones, such as maternal nurturance, as well as beliefs and coping strategies. The chapter concludes by suggesting areas of future research, including additional investigation of which psychosocial factors protect health, how multiple psychosocial factors might interact to protect health, and how early life adversity might affect adult health across different groups throughout the life span.

Keywords: early life adversity, resilience, psychosocial factors, social factors, relational factors, maternal nurturance, beliefs, coping strategies, adult health, health outcomes

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