The long arm of childhood: Preschool associations with adolescent health

Terri J. Sabol*, Lindsay Till Hoyt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The current study examines the extent to which participation in preschool at age 4 is associated with blood pressure, body mass index, and awakening cortisol at age 15. We capitalize on data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to examine differences in adolescent health among children who attended preschool, parental care, or home-based care at age 4 (n = 742). Using quasi-experimental methods, we found that preschool participation was associated with multiple positive health outcomes in adolescence. In particular, preschool participation was associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and lower arterial pressure during adolescence compared with children in parental care (but not home-based care). Preschool participation was also related to lower levels of cortisol (measured at waking) compared with youth who did not attend preschool. More hours in preschool was associated with higher body mass index and more teacher education is associated with lower teacher education. Results are discussed in terms of how early preschool experiences may help to explain long-term health trajectories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-763
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017


  • Adolescent physical health
  • Early childhood education
  • Positive health
  • Preschool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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