Bad childhood experiences linked to cardiovascular risk later in life
Adverse childhood experiences, such as neglect, violence and sexual abuse, are strongly linked with the development of cardiovascular risk factors, a recent study reports.
Extracting 2009–2011 data from the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System, researchers identified adverse childhood experiences in 45,482 participants (mean age, 57.9±15.2 years; 59.7 percent female) and evaluated the pertinent associations with health behaviours and cardiovascular risk factors. Three categories of adverse childhood experiences were included: neglect, violence or emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
More than half (52 percent; n=23,694) of the participants reported at least one adverse childhood experience, while a quarter (25 percent) had experiences in at least two distinct categories. Violence or verbal abuse was the most common adverse experience and was reported by 37 percent (n=16,841) of the total sample. This was followed by neglect (33.6 percent; n=15,226) and sexual abuse (11.8 percent; 5,373).
There were direct and significant correlations between the risks of hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidaemia and the number of adverse childhood experiences (p<0.001 for all). This effect was particularly strong among participants <40 years of age.
For instance, having experiences in two distinct categories resulted in a larger increase in diabetes risk in participants <40 years of age (odds ratio [OR], 1.72; 95 percent CI, 1.19–2.48) compared with the total sample (OR, 1.21; 1.12–1.32). The same was true for exposure to experiences in three categories (<40 years: OR, 2.0; 1.22–2.36; total sample: OR, 1.38; 1.22–1.57).