Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have traced chronic health problems of adult inner-city women to traumas from childhood abuse and neglect.
The latest findings, reported in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, complement prior studies of other socioeconomic groups and provide further evidence linking childhood mistreatment to serious health issues as adults, said Meeyoung O. Min, assistant professor of social work at Case Western Reserve's Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the study.
Min's research team set out to understand specific factors that link childhood trauma to major health problems that surface as adults. The research focused on inner-city women who participated in a series of studies examining the development of children with prenatal exposure to cocaine.
After ruling out such factors as age, education and race, the researchers found that childhood trauma affects physical health in adulthood through lifetime drug dependence, smoking, more adverse life events and greater psychological distress.
The study also found that emotional struggles and life strainssuch as financial and family-related issuesand being re-victimized as adults, resulted in health problems among relatively young urban women with a history of substance use.
By identifying the specific cause in this link, Min said, interventions may be developed to help women avoid behaviors that lead to dependence on tobacco and illegal substances, additional trauma and other mental health issues.
Also, Min said, health care providers should be aware of childhood maltreatment as a potential contributor to health problems, especially among women in urban, low-income communities. Min urged providers to use the findings to design more personalized treatment.
Given their role in fostering the emotional and cognitive development of th
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Case Western Reserve University