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

New study reveals contrasts in how groups of neurons function during decision making

July 19, 2017
By training mice to perform a sound identification task in a virtual reality maze, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have identified striking contrasts in how groups of neurons ...

Memory takes time, researchers conclude

July 19, 2017
How short-term memories become long-term ones has frequently been explored by researchers. While a definitive answer remains elusive, New York University scientists Thomas Carew and Nikolay Kukushkin conclude that this transformation ...

Researchers identify new target for chronic pain

July 19, 2017
Proteins must be in the right place at the right time in the cell to function correctly. This is even more critical in a neuron than in other cells because of its complex tree-like structure and its function. Researchers ...

Brains are more plastic than we thought

July 19, 2017
Practice might not always make perfect, but it's essential for learning a sport or a musical instrument. It's also the basis of brain training, an approach that holds potential as a non-invasive therapy to overcome disabilities ...

Healthy heart in 20s, better brain in 40s?

July 19, 2017
Folks with heart-healthy habits in their 20s tend to have larger, healthier brains in their 40s—brains that may be better prepared to withstand the ravages of aging, a new study reports.

Individual insight into brain networks

July 19, 2017
Harvard scientists have gained new insights into how the brain networks important for thought and remembering are organized in individual people, bringing the notion of using brain scans to help personalize medical treatments ...

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.