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January/February 2001Vol. 2, No. 1Abused Children Susceptible to Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Problems as Adults

In two recent studies, researchers found that child abuse leads to psychiatric and substance problems later in life.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University studied women who were sexually abused during childhood. In the 1,411 female adult twins participating in the study, psychiatric, eating, and substance dependence disorders were associated with more than 30 percent of the study population who reported childhood sexual abuse. Family background factors did not significantly alter the results. The severity of the disorders increased with the severity of the abuse.

This study, Childhood Sexual Abuse and Adult Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders in Women, is available online in the Oct. 2000 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry at:

In a related study in Sweden, researchers investigated the association between violence and abuse suffered by women during childhood or adult life and later psychiatric distress. Nearly 400 randomly selected women ages 40 to 50 were interviewed. Of the 32 percent of childhood abuse and 15 percent of adult abuse cases, all were significantly associated with common physical and mental symptoms. Other potential triggers such as unemployment, job strain, social support, and a sense of coherence did not factor into the relationship. A combination of adult violence/abuse and low psychosocial coping resources, increased the odds of developing symptoms.

This study, The Association Between Violence Victimization and Common Symptoms in Swedish Women, is available online in the November 2000 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health at:

Related Item

For a related article about a study investigating the link between childhood abuse and adult anxiety, see "Researchers Find Link between Childhood Abuse and Adult Anxiety" in the September 2000 issue of the Children's Bureau Express.