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Theses

Long-term health effects of World War I stresses

Abstract : This thesis explores the First World War as a historical model in early life psychological stress. The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis predicts increased susceptibility to chronic diseases in adulthood for those exposed to an extreme psychological trauma in very early life. We collected vital information on French orphans born 1914-1916 thanks to the “pupille de la Nation” distinction, a legal status created in 1917 and granted upon request to all orphans. Notification of “adoption by the Nation” was by law inscribed on the birth certificate of a newly adopted child. Birth registers thus provided a census of all pupilles born in the included cities during the inclusion period as well as long-term mortality follow-up. The birth certificates of 7,250 pupilles have been digitized. Call to the Died for France Database enabled us to retrieve the paternal date of death. Matched non-orphans (MNOs) were drawn from the same birth registers. For each orphan, his MNO was therefore chosen born in the same district at the same time. The outcome of interest was longevity of those who survived to 31 y. An orphan-MNO difference in adult longevity of ~2.5 years was found for orphans who had lost their father before) birth (prenatal orphans), but no difference in adult longevity could be measured between postnatal orphans and their MNOs. These two results suggest early trauma in utero has programming effects on biological susceptibility in adulthood strong enough to alter longevity. The fact that no loss of lifespan was found in the case of a postnatal loss of father further suggests efficient buffers to early postnatal stress existed in French society.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01792017, version 1

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Nicolas Todd. Long-term health effects of World War I stresses. Santé publique et épidémiologie. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017PA066452⟩. ⟨tel-01792017⟩

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