Kennedy B, Chen R, Valdimarsdóttir U, Montgomery S, Fang F, Fall K
J Adolesc Health 63 (1) 108-114 [2018-07-00; online 2018-04-30]
Although childhood traumatic experiences are recognized as important determinants for adolescent psychiatric health in general, our objective was to explore the specific influence of childhood bereavement on the stress resilience development trajectory. In this national register-based cohort study, we identified 407,639 men born in Sweden between 1973 and 1983, who underwent compulsory military enlistment examinations in late adolescence, including measures of psychological stress resilience. We defined exposure as loss of a first-degree family member in childhood, and estimated relative risk ratios (RRRs) for reduced (moderate or low), compared with high, stress resilience with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using multinomial logistic regression. Loss of a parent or sibling in childhood conferred a 49% increased risk of subsequent low stress resilience (RRR, 1.49, 95% CI, 1.41-1.57) and an 8% increased risk of moderate stress resilience (RRR, 1.08, 95% CI, 1.03-1.13) in late adolescence. There was also a graded increase in risk with increasing age at loss; teenagers were at higher risk for low resilience (RRR, 1.64, 95% CI, 1.52-1.77) than children aged 7-12 (RRR, 1.47, 95% CI, 1.34-1.61) and ≤6 years (RRR, 1.16 95% CI, 1.02-1.32). The excess risk was observed for all causes of death, including suicide and unexpected deaths as well as deaths due to other illnesses. The associations remained after exclusion of parents with a history of hospitalization for psychiatric diagnoses. The long-term consequences of childhood bereavement may include lower stress resilience in late adolescence.