Objective: To test the impact of childhood adversity, including community violence exposure, on hypertension risk in Black American young adults to understand what risk factors (eg, prenatal factors, later exposures) and ages of adversity exposure increased hypertension risk. Study design: The study included 396 Black American participants with data from prenatal, birth, and age 7-, 14-, and 19-year visits. At age 19 years, individuals with blood pressure (BP) measures >120 mmHg systolic and/or >80 mmHg diastolic were classified as having high blood pressure (HBP), and those with BP <120/80 mmHg were classified as normal. Associations between prenatal and birth risk factors; childhood adversity at age 7, 14, and 19 years; age 19 body mass index (BMI); and both systolic and diastolic BP at age 19 were tested using logistic regression models. Results: Age 19 BMI was positively associated with systolic and diastolic HBP status at age 19. Controlling for all covariates, community violence exposure at age 7 and 19 years was associated with 2.2-fold (95% CI, 1.242-3.859) and 2.0-fold (95% CI, 1.052-3.664) greater odds of systolic HBP, respectively, at age 19 years. Prenatal risk, birth risk, and other dimensions of childhood adversity were not associated with HBP in this cohort. Conclusion: Childhood community violence exposure is a significant risk factor for HBP in young adults. As Black American children typically experience more community violence exposure than other American children, our results suggest that racial disparities in childhood community violence exposure may contribute to racial disparities in adult hypertension burden.
- adverse childhood experiences
- blood pressure
- childhood violence exposure
- developmental origins of health and disease