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.

Explore further: Neurologists should ask patients about abuse

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 ...

Childhood trauma exposure is very common among alcohol-dependent inpatients

March 15, 2012
Accumulating evidence indicates that childhood trauma experience (CTE) may be an environmental susceptibility factor for a variety of psychiatric disorders, including alcohol dependence (AD). CTE can include sexual, physical, ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals breakthrough in decoding brain function

September 25, 2017
If there's a final frontier in understanding the human body, it's definitely not the pinky. It's the brain.

Overturning widely held ideas: Visual attention drawn to meaning, not what stands out

September 25, 2017
Our visual attention is drawn to parts of a scene that have meaning, rather than to those that are salient or "stick out," according to new research from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis. ...

The rat race is over: New livestock model for stroke could speed discovery

September 25, 2017
It is well-known in the medical field that the pig brain shares certain physiological and anatomical similarities with the human brain. So similar are the two that researchers at the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience ...

Touching helps build the sexual brain

September 21, 2017
Hormones or sexual experience? Which of these is crucial for the onset of puberty? It seems that when rats are touched on their genitals, their brain changes and puberty accelerates. In a new study publishing September 21 ...

Gene immunotherapy protects against multiple sclerosis in mice

September 21, 2017
A potent and long-lasting gene immunotherapy approach prevents and reverses symptoms of multiple sclerosis in mice, according to a study published September 21st in the journal Molecular Therapy. Multiple sclerosis is an ...

Neuron types in brain are defined by gene activity shaping their communication patterns

September 21, 2017
In a major step forward in research, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) today publish in Cell a discovery about the molecular-genetic basis of neuronal cell types. Neurons are the basic building blocks that ...

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.