Persistent emotional stress that we experience as children — whether due to financial challenges, death of a loved one, or relationships that cause anxiety — may make us more prone to health issues as adults, according to a new study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers and colleagues.

The study was published September 28, 2015 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

“We know that the childhood period is really important for setting up trajectories of health and well-being,” said lead author Ashley Winning, postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School, in a September 29, 2015 NPR All Things Considered interview. Senior author was Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences.

The 45-year study of approximately 7,000 British participants born the same week in 1958 found even those without high stress as adults are more at risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic diseases in adulthood if they experienced emotional stress as youngsters.

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