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Research suggests childhood abuse could cause multiple health problems in adults

Posted September 25, 2013
Childhood abuse is associated with an increased risk of life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome, in adulthood. Some researchers think constant stress in childhood creates a situation in which multiple regulatory systems are constantly prepared to respond to threats. This causes wear and tear on the body, increasing susceptibility to disease later in life. In a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Judith Carroll of the University of California, Los Angeles and her colleagues have established a correlation between high levels of childhood abuse and cumulative health risk.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Research shows a correlation exists between abuse in childhood and an increased risk of severe health problems later in life. It’s not clear how events that occurred in childhood can affect health decades later. One hypothesis suggests that constant stress in childhood reprograms the neural circuitry that influences how systems throughout the body respond to stress. However, most studies of the effects of childhood abuse on adult health have focused on separate body systems, so have not tested this hypothesis.

Carroll and her colleagues devised a way to study the relationship between abuse in childhood and overall health risk. They examined 18 biological markers, including heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood glucose level, of 756 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and used this data to determine health risk. The researchers then had the participants fill out a questionnaire describing their childhood environments.


Read more at: MedicalXpress

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