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Study Links Childhood Abuse to Adult-Onset Asthma in African-American Women

Update Date: Dec 09, 2012 04:53 AM EST

A new study from the Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC) at Boston University has linked childhood abuse to the adult onset of asthma in African-American women. According to the study, those who reported being abused before age 11 were more likely to contract asthma as adults when compared to women who were not abused either in childhood or during their teenage years.

For the study, researchers followed 28,456 African-American women. They were asked to answer health questionnaires and were also asked about physical and sexual abuse during childhood up to age 11 or during adolescence, between ages 12 and 18.

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The findings of the study revealed that women who went through abuse in childhood had 20 percent or more chances of contracting asthma as an adult. The evidence was stronger for physical abuse than for sexual abuse, Medical Xpress reports. However, the researchers did not find ample evidence that abuse during adolescence was linked to the risk of adult-onset asthma.

"This is the first prospective study to show an association between childhood abuse and adult-onset asthma," said lead author of the study Patricia Coogan, DSc, senior epidemiologist at SEC and associate professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.

"The results suggest that chronic stress contributes to asthma onset, even years later."

The possible reason for the findings could be the stress caused due to the abuse and its physiological consequences, particularly effects on the immune system and on airway development, according to the study.

In 2010, according to the statistics from National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, about 695,000 children aged up to 17 years were identified as neglected or abused, while 22 percent of neglected or abused children were African-American, according to the report.

"Given the high prevalence of asthma and of childhood abuse in the United States, the association is of significant public health importance," Coogan added.

The study was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

 

 

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