Determinants of Exceptional Longevity: Early-Life Conditions, Mid-Life Environment and Parental Characteristics

Leonid A. Gavrilov, University of Chicago
Natalia S. Gavrilova, University of Chicago

Earlier studies found that parental characteristics as well as early-life conditions and mid-life environment play a significant role in survival to advanced ages. However, little is known about simultaneous effects of all these three factors on longevity. This ongoing study attempts to fill this gap by comparing American centenarians born in 1890-1891 with their short-lived peers born in 1890 and died at age 65 years. The records were taken from computerized family histories, which were then linked to 1900 and 1930 U.S. censuses. The study found that parental longevity and some mid-life characteristics proved to be significant predictors of longevity while the role of childhood conditions was less important. More centenarians were born in the second half of the year compared to controls suggesting early origins of longevity. The results of this study suggest that familial background, early-life conditions and mid-life characteristics play an important role in longevity.

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Presented in Session 92: The Oldest Old: Determinants of Very Long Lifespans