Childhood Socioeconomic Status and Genetic Risk for Poorer Cognition in Later Life

Sara Moorman , Boston College
Kyle Carr, Boston College
Emily Greenfield, Rutgers University

This study aimed to advance understanding of how environments potentially moderate the effect of the e4 allele of the APOE gene on poorer cognition in later life, focusing on childhood socioeconomic status (SES). We used data from 3,017 participants in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Childhood SES included parents’ educational attainment, father’s occupational status, and household income. Neurocognitive tests were administered when participants were approximately ages 65 and 72. Results from multilevel models indicated that APOE e4 status—and not childhood SES—predicted memory, whereas childhood SES—and not APOE e4 status—predicted language/executive functioning. An interaction between APOE e4 status and childhood SES for memory indicated that at baseline, higher childhood SES protected against the risk of APOE e4 status, whereas lower childhood SES exacerbated the risk of APOE e4 status. By follow-up, these moderating effects dissipated. We interpret these results in light of theorizing on differential susceptibility across the life course.

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 Presented in Session 5. Health & Mortality 1