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Abuse, Neglect in Childhood Linked to Adult Depression

Effects of early abuse and neglect manifest throughout young adulthood

TUESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Abuse and neglect during childhood are linked to an increased incidence of major depressive disorder in young adulthood, with abused and neglected children having an earlier disease onset and more psychiatric comorbidity than matched controls. The findings are published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Cathy Spatz Widom, Ph.D., of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, and colleagues conducted a prospective study to determine if 676 abused and neglected children had more major depressive disorder and psychiatric comorbidity than 520 matched controls when followed into young adulthood (mean age 28.7 years).

Abuse and neglect during childhood was associated with an increased incidence for major depressive disorder in young adulthood (odds ratio, 1.51). Physically abused children (OR, 1.59) or those who suffered multiple types of abuse (OR, 1.75) had an increased risk for lifetime major depressive disorder. Neglect increased the incidence of current major depression (OR, 1.59), but childhood sexual abuse did not. Compared with controls, abused and neglected children had earlier onset of disease and more psychiatric comorbidity.

"These results support the need for clinicians to increase efforts to detect and treat depression in physically abused and neglected children," the authors conclude.

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