Childhood Abuse Linked to Inflammation in Adulthood

C-reactive protein, other indicators of inflammation higher in adults maltreated as children

FRIDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who were abused in childhood have an increased risk of developing inflammation (as measured by C-reactive protein, fibrinogen and white blood cell count) compared to their peers who were not mistreated, according to a report published online Jan. 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Andrea Danese, M.D., of King's College London in the U.K., and colleagues looked at 972 subjects enrolled in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, a primarily white population living in South Island, New Zealand. Maltreatment was determined by observing mother-child interaction, parental reports of disciplinary behavior at ages 7 and 9, and retrospective reports of physical or sexual abuse by subjects in their 20s.

Maltreated children had a greater risk for clinically relevant C-reactive protein levels 20 years later (risk ratio, 1.80). Similar associations were seen for fibrinogen and white blood cell counts, and the effect of maltreatment on adult inflammation was independent of other risk factors, such as stress in adulthood.

"Inflammation may be an important developmental mediator linking adverse experiences in early life to adult health," the authors write. "A better understanding of developmental processes and of the mechanisms by which psychosocial experiences 'get under the skin' and leave enduring health signatures is needed to unravel complex disease pathophysiology."

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