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Abuse, lack of parental warmth in childhood linked to multiple health risks in adulthood
Date:9/26/2013

h increased likelihood of a negative health event such as a heart attack or stroke, or show declines in physical or cognitive functioning.

To determine the study subjects' childhood stress the researchers used a well-validated self-report scale called the Risky Families Questionnaire.

They found a significant link between reports of childhood abuse and multisystem health risks But those who reported higher amounts of parental warmth and affection in their childhood had lower multisystem health risks The researchers also found a significant interaction of abuse and warmth, so that individuals reporting low levels of love and affection and high levels of abuse in childhood had the highest multisystem risk in adulthood.

The researchers suggest that toxic childhood stress alters neural responses to stress, boosting the emotional and physical arousal to threat and making it more difficult for that reaction to be shut off.

"Our findings highlight the extent to which these early childhood experiences are associated with evidence of increased biological risks across nearly all of the body's major regulatory systems" said Teresa Seeman, professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine and of epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, and the paper's senior author. "If we only look at individual biological parameters such as blood pressure or cholesterol, we would miss the fact that the early childhood experiences are related to a much broader set of biological risk indicators suggesting the range of health risks that may result from such adverse childhood exposures".

The authors note that the findings are based on a cross-sectional analysis and do not prove causation. It used information provided by the participants, so there may be some recall bias. Also, the analysis may not have captured other factors affecting regulatory systems, such as poor nutrition or enviro
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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