Impact of Violence on Allostatic Load in African American Young Adults

2017 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering

Abstract. Allostatic load, the chronic stress-induced wear and tear on the body, has a cumulative deleterious effect in individuals over their lifetime. Recent studies have suggested that socioeconomic status, psychological determinants and biomedical health cumulatively contribute to allostatic load in young adults. While these finding individually suggest that African American children may be particularly susceptible to the effects of allostatic loading due to racially based discrimination and economic instability, few studies have shown the effect of exposure to violence on the allostatic load carried by young African Americans. The Biological and Social Correlates of Drug Use in African American Emerging Adults or BADU dataset is composed of young African Americans (N=557 individuals) living in the Washington DC area, collected from 2010 to 2012. Study participants were sought equally between males and females (N = 283, N =274). This dataset provides a rich source of information on the behavioral, mental, and physical health of African American young adults (18-25 year olds) living in the Washington DC area. This includes exposure to community, interpersonal and intimate partner violence. Bioinformatic analysis of six biomedical markers measured in BADU study participants: C Reactive Protein, Cortisol, Epstein Barr Virus IgG, IgE, IgA and IgM, known to be associated with allostatic load show that cortisol is positively correlated to reported emotional state(R=0.072) and perceived individual discrimination (R=0.059). Allostatic load appears to be high in individuals who self-report exposure to violence. Machine learning techniques were used to predict which responses were most predictive of elevated stress biomarkers. These findings suggest that allostatic load is an important factor in health and disease outcomes for young African Americans.