Childhood Abuse May Raise Adult Inflammation Levels

April 8, 2008

Depressed adults with a history of maltreatment in childhood tend to have higher levels of C-reactive protein than their counterparts without a history of abuse, putting them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a report published in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Depressed adults with a history of maltreatment in childhood tend to have higher levels of C-reactive protein than their counterparts without a history of abuse, putting them at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a report published in the April issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Andrea Danese, M.D., of King's College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,000 people who were followed from birth to age 32 years and assessed for history of maltreatment in childhood and depression as adults.

Levels of C-reactive protein were 45 percent higher among depressed versus non-depressed subjects, but those with current depression and a history of maltreatment during childhood were twice as likely as control subjects to have elevated C-reactive protein levels, whereas those with only current depression had only a small and insignificant higher risk of elevated C-reactive protein levels versus the controls.

"The elevated inflammation levels in individuals who were both depressed and maltreated were not explained by correlated risk factors such as depression recurrence, low socioeconomic status in childhood or adulthood, poor health or smoking," the authors write. "Information about experiences of childhood maltreatment may help to identify depressed individuals with elevated inflammation levels and, thus, at greater risk of cardiovascular disease."

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