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April 2007Vol. 8, No. 3Impact of Child Maltreatment on Adult Survivors

Two recently published research studies report on the long-term impact of childhood maltreatment.

A longitudinal study that followed 676 abused and neglected children into young adulthood found that these individuals had an increased risk of major depression as adults, compared to nonmaltreated controls. When interviewed as young adults, those who experienced physical abuse or multiple forms of abuse as children were at increased risk of lifetime depression, while those who experienced childhood neglect were at increased risk of current depression. Maltreated children who became depressed adults also showed high rates of comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders.

The study, "A Prospective Investigation of Major Depressive Disorder and Comorbidity in Abused and Neglected Children Grown Up," by Cathy Spatz Widom, Kimberly DuMont, and Sally J. Czaja, was published in the January 2007 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The article can be purchased online:

In another study, researchers found that childhood abuse or neglect could impair women's ability to develop necessary social support structures as adults and also make them more vulnerable to symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The retrospective study of 100 low-income women found that social support partially mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adult stress symptoms, and current stress was a strong mediator of the impact of childhood maltreatment on adult depression.

This study, "Child Multi-Type Maltreatment and Associated Depression and PTSD Symptoms: The Role of Social Support and Stress," by Ana-Maria Vranceanu, Stevan E. Hobfoll, and Robert J. Johnson, was published in the January 2007 issue of Child Abuse and Neglect. It can be purchased online:

Related Item

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) is an ongoing long-term study of the effects of childhood trauma on long-term health. For information about the study and links to publications about ACE, visit the ACE website: