The role of the early social environment on Epstein Barr virus infection: a prospective observational design using the Millennium Cohort Study
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a highly prevalent herpesvirus linked to infectious mononucleosis and several malignancies. This paper aims to study the association between children's early life social environment at 9 months and EBV infection at 3 years of age.
We used data on children included in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. We described the social environment using area-level and material factors as well as socioeconomic position (SEP) at 9 months. EBV was measured at 3 years of age (n = 12 457).
Lower rates of EBV infection were observed in children living in towns and rural areas compared with those living in cities. Lower SEP and overcrowding in the household increased the odds of being infected. Children whose parents were social tenants were more likely to be infected than homeowners. In the overall model, the strength of the association between material factors and EBV infection weakened.
We showed that early life material deprivation was associated with a higher risk of EBV infection among 3-year-olds. Children living in more deprived social conditions may be more likely to become EBV carriers at an earlier age.