Trauma, neglect, family dysfunction in childhood lead to health issues in 50s, 60s: Study

Children who experience trauma, neglect, abuse, and family dysfunction are at increased risk of having heart disease in their 50s and 60s, according to a new study. Results from the Northwestern Medicine study showed people exposed to higher levels of childhood family environment adversity were more than 50 per cent more likely to have a cardiovascular disease event such as a heart attack or stroke over a 30-year follow-up. Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the longitudinal study had more than 3,600 participants. Children who experience this type of adversity are predisposed to higher rates of lifelong stress, smoking, anxiety, depression, and a sedentary lifestyle that persist into adulthood. These can lead to increased body mass index (BMI), diabetes, increased blood pressure, vascular dysfunction, and inflammation. Adults who were exposed to these risk factors as children may benefit from counseling on the link between coping with stress and controlling smoking and obesity, but more research is needed, Pierce said.While the study didn't specifically address the attentiveness of parents, the findings indicate parents' involvement in their children's lives could impact their health later in life.