Child Abuse Affects Long-Term Physical He alth
Adults who were abused as children are more likely to develop inflammatory diseases later in life. Researchers led by Andrea Danese from King's College in London found that they had increased levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein. There was a connection between the extent of abuse and the increase.
Danse's team drew on the Dunedin Multidisciplinary He alth and Development Study, which followed the development of 1,000 New Zealand men and women born in 1972. The association between childhood abuse-such as sexual abuse and physical or psychological punishment-and markers of inflammation in adulthood remained intact even when the researchers considered the role of other risk factors. These included low birth weight, socioeconomic disadvantage and low IQ as other childhood impairments; low status, depression and perceived stress as additional negative factors in adulthood, as well as riskier he alth behaviors such as smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity and obesity, which can also have pro-inflammatory effects.
The higher susceptibility can also be directly explained by the psychological and physical stress caused by abuse in childhood: Animal experiments have shown that early stress impairs the normal development of inflammation regulation by permanently disrupting the glucocorticoid signals to the Response Containment.
According to statistical analysis, as much as 11 percent of cases of elevated C-reactive protein in the general population could be due to child abuse, the researchers conclude. For example, inflammatory processes make a decisive contribution to cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. (af)