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Childhood abuse passes down the generations

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Abuse and trauma in childhood can pass down the generations.

Women who were abused as children are more likely to have a child who suffers from asthma, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder), depression or autism, new research has found.

Researchers from the Institute of Medical Psychology in Berlin tracked the health of 4300 American mothers and their children.  The mothers revealed any abuse—physical, emotional or sexual—that they experienced growing up, and their children had a higher risk of health problems.  Asthma, ADHD and autism were more common, and so was depression and anxiety disorders, classified as ‘internalizing disorders.’ Daughters were also more likely to be obese.

The researchers aren’t sure what the biological mechanism is that allows trauma to pass through generations, but the fact that the problem experienced by the mother isn’t being replicated by the child suggests it has nothing to do with genetics.

References
Lancet Public Health, 2023; 8: e226; doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(23)00025-7
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