Emotional neglect in children linked to increased stroke risk later in life

September 19, 2012

New research suggests that people who were emotionally neglected as children may have a higher risk of stroke in adulthood. The study is published in the September 19, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Emotional neglect is defined as failing to provide for a child's needs emotionally.

The results from a new study by neurological researchers from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center suggest that people who were emotionally neglected as children may have a higher risk of in later adulthood.

"Studies have shown that children who were neglected emotionally in childhood are at an increased risk of a slew of . However, our study is one of few that looked at an association between and stroke," said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, a at Rush.

The findings are published in the September 19, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, 1,040 participants in the Memory and Aging Project who did not have dementia and were 55 years of age or older took a survey measuring physical and before the age of 18. The retrospective survey questions focused on whether the participant felt loved by their parents or when they were younger, were made to feel afraid or intimidated and whether they were punished with a belt or other object. Questions about and the family's financial needs were also included.

Over a period of three and a half years, 257 people in the study died, of which 192 had a brain autopsy to look for signs of stroke. Forty of the participants had evidence of a stroke based on their or an examination. A total of 89 people had signs of a stroke based on the autopsy results.

The study found that the risk of stroke was nearly three times higher in those people who reported a moderately high level of childhood emotional neglect than those who reported a moderately low level. The results stayed the same after considering factors such as diabetes, physical activity, smoking, anxiety and heart problems.

"Interestingly, the autopsy showed emotional neglect was associated with the presence of cerebral infarctions," said Dr. David A. Bennett, director of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and co-author of the study. "The results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that early life factors such as traumatic childhood experiences influence the development of physical illness and common chronic conditions of old age."

Wilson noted that a limitation of the study is that neglect was reported from memory many years after occurrence, so participants may not have remembered events accurately.

Related Stories

Neurologists should ask patients about abuse

January 25, 2012

A new position statement issued by the American Academy of Neurology calls on neurologists to begin screening their patients for abusive or violent treatment by family, caretakers or others. The position statement is published ...

Recommended for you

New research rethinks how we grab and hold onto objects

July 28, 2015

It's been a long day. You open your fridge and grab a nice, cold beer. A pretty simple task, right? Wrong. While you're debating between an IPA and a lager, your nervous system is calculating a complex problem: how hard to ...

It don't mean a thing if the brain ain't got that swing

July 27, 2015

Like Duke Ellington's 1931 jazz standard, the human brain improvises while its rhythm section keeps up a steady beat. But when it comes to taking on intellectually challenging tasks, groups of neurons tune in to one another ...

Sleep makes our memories more accessible, study shows

July 27, 2015

Sleeping not only protects memories from being forgotten, it also makes them easier to access, according to new research from the University of Exeter and the Basque Centre for Cognition, Brain and Language. The findings ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.