Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Early-life disease exposure and associations with adult survival, cause of death, and reproductive success in preindustrial humans
Author(s): Hayward, Adam
Rigby, Francesca
Lummaa, Virpi
Contact Email:
Keywords: inflammation
life history
Issue Date: Aug-2016
Date Deposited: 10-Aug-2016
Citation: Hayward A, Rigby F & Lummaa V (2016) Early-life disease exposure and associations with adult survival, cause of death, and reproductive success in preindustrial humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (2), pp. 8951-8956.
Abstract: A leading hypothesis proposes that increased human life span since 1850 has resulted from decreased exposure to childhood infections, which has reduced chronic inflammation and later-life mortality rates, particularly from cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer. Early-life cohort mortality rate often predicts later-life survival in humans, but such associations could arise from factors other than disease exposure. Additionally, the impact of early-life disease exposure on reproduction remains unknown, and thus previous work ignores a major component of fitness through which selection acts upon life-history strategy. We collected data from seven 18th- and 19th-century Finnish populations experiencing naturally varying mortality and fertility levels. We quantified early-life disease exposure as the detrended child mortality rate from infectious diseases during an individual’s first 5 y, controlling for important social factors. We found no support for an association between early-life disease exposure and all-cause mortality risk after age 15 or 50. We also found no link between early-life disease exposure and probability of death specifically from cardiovascular disease, stroke, or cancer. Independent of survival, there was no evidence to support associations between early-life disease exposure and any of several aspects of reproductive performance, including lifetime reproductive success and age at first birth, in either males or females. Our results do not support the prevailing assertion that exposure to infectious diseases in early life has long-lasting associations with later-life all-cause mortality risk or mortality putatively linked to chronic inflammation. Variation in adulthood conditions could therefore be the most likely source of recent increases in adult life span.
DOI Link: 10.1073/pnas.1519820113
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. Publisher policy allows this work to be made available in this repository. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016) vol. 113 no. 32, pp. 8951–8956, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1519820113 by National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The original publication is available at:

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Hayward et al_revised manuscript.pdfFulltext - Accepted Version267.42 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.