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Childhood Conditions and Exceptional Longevity. Dr. Leonid A. Gavrilov, Ph.D. Dr. Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D. Center on Aging NORC and The University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois, USA. Centenarians represent the fastest growing age group in the industrialized countries.

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Childhood conditions and exceptional longevity l.jpg

Childhood Conditions and Exceptional Longevity

Dr. Leonid A. Gavrilov, Ph.D.

Dr. Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D.

Center on Aging

NORC and The University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois, USA


Centenarians represent the fastest growing age group in the industrialized countries l.jpg

Centenarians represent the fastest growing age group in the industrialized countries

Yet, factors predicting exceptional longevity and its time trends remain to be fully understood

In this study we explored the new opportunities provided by the ongoing revolution in information technology, computer science and Internet expansion to explore early-childhood predictors of exceptional longevity

Jeanne Calment (1875-1997)


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Revolution in Information TechnologyWhat does it mean for longevity studies?

Over 75 millions of computerized genealogical records are available onlinenow!


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Computerized genealogies is a promising source of information about potential predictors of exceptional longevity: life-course events, early-life conditions and family history of longevity


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Computerized Genealogies as a Resource for Longevity Studies

  • Pros: provide important information about family and life-course events, which otherwise is difficult to collect (including information about lifespan of parents and other relatives)

  • Cons: Uncertain data quality Uncertain validity and generalizability


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For longevity studies the genealogies with detailed birth dates and death dates for long-lived individuals (centenarians) and their relatives are of particular interest

In this study 1,001 genealogy records for centenarians born in 1875-1899 were collected and used for further age validation


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Internet Resources Used in Centenarian Age Verification

Social Security Administration Death Master File is publicly available at the Rootsweb website: http://ssdi.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ssdi.cgi

Head of household indexes and census page images for 1900, 1920 and 1910 federal censuses are provided by Genealogy.com

Individual indexes of enumerated persons by 1900, 1920 and 1930 federal censuses and census page images are provided by Ancestry.com


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Steps of Centenarian Age Verification

  • Internal consistency checks of dates

  • Verification of death dates – linkage to the Social Security Administration Death Master File (DMF)

  • Verification of birth dates – linkage to early Federal censuses (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)


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A typical image of ‘centenarian’ family in 1900 census


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Results of Centenarian Age Verification


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Conclusions of the Age Verification Study

  • Death dates of centenarians recorded in genealogies always require verification because of strong outliers (1.3%, misprints)

  • Birth dates of centenarians recorded in genealogies are sufficiently accurate - 92% are correct; for the remaining 8% only one-year disagreements

  • Quality of genealogical data is good enough if these data are pre-selected for high data quality


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Birth Order and Chances to Become a Centenarian

Cases - 436 centenarians born in the United States between 1890 and 1899

Controls – their siblings born in the same time window (1,119 controls)

Model:

log(longevity odds ratio) = ax + bx2 + cz + d

where x – birth order; z – family size; a,b,c,d – parameters of polynomial regression model


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Birth Order and Survival to 100

Source:

Gavrilova, N.S., Gavrilov, L.A. Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity. In: “Living to 100 and Beyond” Monograph. The Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Illinois, USA, 2005, pp. 1-49.


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New Developments

Can birth order effect be confirmed by more rigorous approach – a strictly within-family analysis?

Method of conditional logistic regression allows us to compare centenarians with their siblings within the same family. This eliminates confounding caused by between-family variation.


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First-born siblings are more likely to become centenarians (odds = 1.8)

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 950

LR chi2(2) = 33.75

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -282.22348 Pseudo R2 = 0.0564

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+--------------------------------------------------------

First-born status1.7720.006 1.180 2.663

Male sex .404 0.000 .284 .576

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Birth Order and Odds to Become a Centenarian


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Can the birth-order effect be a result of selective child mortality, thus not applicable to adults?

Approach:

  • To compare centenarians with those siblings only who survived to adulthood (age 20)


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First-born adult siblings (20+years) are more likely to become centenarians (odds = 1.95)

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 797

LR chi2(2) = 27.54

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -247.93753 Pseudo R2 = 0.0526

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Variable | Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+--------------------------------------------------------------------

First-born status | 1.9490.003 1.261 3.010

Male sex | .458 0.000 .318 .658

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Even at age 75 it still helps to be a first-born child (odds = 1.7)

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 557

LR chi2(2) = 19.03

Prob > chi2 = 0.0001

Log likelihood = -186.22869 Pseudo R2 = 0.0486

----------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+--------------------------------------------------

First-born status1.6590.040 1.022 2.693

Male sex .459 0.000 .306 .687

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Are young fathers responsible for birth order effect?

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 950

LR chi2(2) = 30.11

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -284.04284 Pseudo R2 = 0.0503

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+-------------------------------------------------------------

Born to young father1.8560.056 .985 3.496

Male sex .415 0.000 .291 .590

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Birth order is more important than paternal age for chances to become a centenarian

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 950

LR chi2(3) = 34.24

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -281.97993 Pseudo R2 = 0.0572

----------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+--------------------------------------------------

First-born status 1.635 0.039 1.025 2.607

Born to young father 1.294 0.484 .628 2.668

Male sex .407 0.000 .285 .580

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Are young mothers responsible for the birth order effect?

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 950

LR chi2(2) = 37.35

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -280.42473 Pseudo R2 = 0.0624

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Born to young mother2.0310.001 1.326 3.110

Male sex .412 0.000 .289 .586

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Maternal Age at Person’s Birth and Odds to Become a Centenarian


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Birth order effect explained:Being born to young mother!

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 950

LR chi2(3) = 39.05

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -279.57165 Pseudo R2 = 0.0653

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+-----------------------------------------------------------------------

First-born status 1.360 0.189 .859 2.153

Born to young mother1.7600.021 1.089 2.846

Male sex .407 0.000 .285 .580

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Even at age 75 it still helps to be born to young mother (age <25)(odds = 1.9)

Conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression Number of obs = 557

LR chi2(2) = 21.31

Prob > chi2 = 0.0000

Log likelihood = -185.08639 Pseudo R2 = 0.0544

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Variable Odds Ratio P>|z| [95% Conf. Interval]

-------------+--------------------------------------------------------------------

Born to young mother1.8690.012 1.145 3.051

Male sex .461 0.000 .307 .690

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Back to a broader comparison of ‘centenarian’ and ‘non-centenarian’ families


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Case-Control Study of Early-Life Conditions and Exceptional Longevity

Cases - 382 households where centenarians (born in 1890-1899) were raised (from centenarian records linked to 1900 census)

Controls – 1% random sample of households with children below age 10enumerated by 1900 census (from Integrated Public Use Microdata Sample, IPUMS: http://www.ipums.umn.edu/usa/index.html)


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Childhood Residence and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – New England and Middle Atlantic (reference group)

B – Mountain West and Pacific West

C – Southeast and Southwest

D – North Central


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Household Property Status During Childhood and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – Rented House

B – Owned House

C – Rented Farm

D – Owned farm

(reference group)


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Paternal Immigration Status and Survival to Age 100Odds for household to be in a ‘centenarian’ group

A – Father immigrated

B – Father native-born

(reference group)


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No Association was Found (so far) Between Chances to Become a Centenarian and

  • Paternal literacy

  • Child mortality of siblings


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Month of Birth Predicts the US Life Expectancy at Age 80

Computed using the Social Security Administration data

Source:

Gavrilova, N.S., Gavrilov, L.A. Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity. In: “Living to 100 and Beyond” Monograph. The Society of Actuaries, Schaumburg, Illinois, USA, 2005, pp. 1-49.


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Seasonality (month-of-birth effects) for US life expectancy


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Within-Family Study of Month-of-Birth Effects on Exceptional Longevity

Cases - Centenarians born in 1890-1893

Controls – Their own siblings

Method: Conditional logistic regression

Advantage: Allows researchers to eliminate confounding effects of between-family variation


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Month of Birth and the Likelihood to Become a Centenarian

Method:

Conditional logistic regression for odds to become a centenarian, using siblings as within-family control.

921 observations


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Month of Birth and the Likelihood to Become a Centenarian for Adult Siblings (20+ years)

Method:

Conditional logistic regression for odds to become a centenarian, using siblings as within-family control.

787 observations


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Conclusions

  • The shortest conclusion was suggested in the title of the New York Times article about our previous related study


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Conclusions

The chances of exceptional longevity are strongly modulated by such characteristics of person's childhood as:

  • Mother's age at person's birth

  • Month of birth

  • Place of birth and some other characteristics of parental family

    Most important, these findings indicate that a larger research project on early-life determinants of exceptional human longevity is likely to produce more new results, very important for population studies


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Acknowledgments

This study was made possible thanks to:

generous support from the National Institute on Aging and the Society of Actuaries


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For More Information and Updates Please Visit Our Scientific and Educational Website on Human Longevity:

  • http://longevity-science.org

And Please Post Your Comments at our Scientific Discussion Blog:

  • http://longevity-science.blogspot.com/


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Objectives:

1. To verify claims of exceptional longevity (living to 100) in the United Stated by checking the accuracy of birth dates through the early US Censuses (1900, 1910, 1920).

2. To collect information on early-life experiences of the future centenarians, and characteristics of the families where they were raised, using the early US Censuses (1900, 1910, 1920), and family reconstitution data.

3. To test a number of hypotheses on possible links between early-life experiences in childhood and subsequent chances of exceptional longevity

Findings:

1. Claims of exceptional longevity have proved to be surprisingly trustworthy, if they are taken from genealogical records pre-selected for their good quality.

2. The following childhood conditions are linked to a subsequent survival to 100 years: childhood farm background, childhood residence in Western States of the US, first birth order (explained through young mothers' age at person's birth), and the month of birth.

The study supports the idea that early-life experiences in childhood may have long-lasting effects on exceptional survival in later life.


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Objectives

1. To verify claims of exceptional longevity (living to 100) in the United Stated by checking the accuracy of birth dates through the early US Censuses (1900, 1910, 1920).

2. To collect information on early-life experiences of the future centenarians, and characteristics of the families where they were raised, using the early US Censuses (1900, 1910, 1920), and family reconstitution data.

3. To test a number of hypotheses on possible links between early-life experiences in childhood and subsequent chances of exceptional longevity


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Findings

1. Claims of exceptional longevity have proved to be surprisingly trustworthy, if they are taken from genealogical records pre-selected for their good quality.

2. The following childhood conditions are linked to a subsequent survival to 100 years: childhood farm background, childhood residence in Western States of the US, first birth order (explained through young mothers' age at person's birth), and the month of birth.

The study supports the idea that early-life experiences in childhood may have long-lasting effects on exceptional survival in later life.


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