Cluster faculty member Shakira Suglia was recently awarded an NIH grant to study the effects of childhood adversity on health outcomes among young Puerto Rican adults from the South Bronx and from San Juan, Puerto Rico. While these two groups of study participants are ethnically homogenous, they have grown up in vastly different contexts. In the South Bronx, these young Puerto Ricans grew up as a minority population in the poorest congressional district in the United States. In San Juan, they’ve been the majority population, but still may have faced discrimination based on the color of their skin.
Suglia’s project will follow-up participants in the Boricua Youth Study, which between 2000-2004 began collecting data from Puerto Rican children between the ages of 5 and 13 years old. Fifteen years after the Boricus Study began, Suglia and her team are returning to the children—now young adults in their twenties—to collect data on health outcomes and health behaviors. In addition to studying the role of childhood adversity Suglia and colleagues will also focus on positive elements that may serve as potential buffers to prevent cardiovascular disease: a strong sense of family, religious life, and acculturation.