Reversing the impact of early, chronic adversity is of paramount importance given that over one million children are victims of abuse and neglect each year in the US and that child maltreatment is estimated to account for billions in public health expenditures. The physiological wear and tear of early-life adversity has recently received considerable attention;however, supporting evidence in humans is limited because long-term health and cognitive outcomes have not yet been prospectively examined in stress-exposed samples. The Female Growth and Development Study (FGDS) began in 1987 and the PI (Jennie Noll, PhD) has retained 96% of this sample of females with substantiated sexual abuse and matched comparisons (N=173) in an accelerated longitudinal, cross-sequential design spanning 6 time points (T1-T6). A multi-level, comprehensive, bio-psycho- social assessment was repeated three times in childhood/early adolescence (mean ages 11, 12 &13), twice in late adolescence (mean ages 18 &19), and once in early adulthood (mean age 24). Recently, FGDS was awarded additional funding from NICHD to conduct T7 and T8 assessments when the sample will be mean aged 38 and 40 respectively.
FGDS Aims have not been extended to examine resilience in the face of daily stressors or the extent to which daily stressors exacerbate the impact of an already-compromised Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis. Moreover, analytic projections indicate that, if trends continue, the abused cohort may be exhibiting signs of premature cognitive aging but the funded cognitive assessment lacks the precision to fully detect this phenomenon. New data collection as part of the proposed RFA-protocol would add (1) ecologically valid inquiry into resilient versus maladaptive coping with daily life stressors, (2) fine- grained cognitive assessments (i.e., working memory, attention inhibition, processing speed, fluid reasoning, associative memory and long-term retrieval) that prognosticate premature cognitive aging, and (3) potentially malleable behavioral health targets that could be intervened upon to reverse the impact of allostatic load on long-term physical and cognitive wellbeing. In addition, the proposed innovative analytic approach will utilize extant data from T1-T8 to test the static and dynamic mechanistic properties of risk and resilient bio-psycho- social constructs, as well as potentially malleable behavioral health targets that account for individual variation in daily stress-coping and cognitive health at midlife. Resultant models will illuminate key points in development where novel interventions promoting stress inoculation and cognitive plasticity could be optimally applied to reverse the deleterious effects of early adversity.
Reversing the impact of early adversity and chronic stress is of paramount importance given that over one million children are victims of abuse and neglect each year in the US and that child maltreatment is estimated to account for $124 billion in public health expenditures. Through new data collection and innovative data analytic modeling, a well-established cohort of sexual abuse victims studied at 8 time points across the first half of the lifespan from childhood through midlife (i.e., the Female Growth and Development Study;FGDS) provides a prime opportunity to test the mechanistic properties of bio-psycho-social constructs that account for individual variation in daily stress-coping and cognitive health at midlife. Resultant models will shed light on key points in development where novel interventions promoting stress inoculation and cognitive plasticity could be optimally applied to reverse the deleterious effects of early adversity.