A Person Who Is Sexually Abused as a Child May Suffer Health Problems as an Adult
Child sex abuse can cause serious long-term consequences for a child’s mental health, and a new study now suggests that the long-term health effects may not be limited to the child’s emotional health. Instead, the study suggests that physical consequences of childhood abuse or neglect may last well into adulthood.
What Is the Risk?
According to the study, which is scheduled to appear in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, individuals who suffer abuse as children, including children who suffer sexual abuse, may have trouble regulating their hormones in adulthood. More specifically, the individuals in the study who suffered the most severe abuse as children had:
- Higher leptin levels. Leptin regulates appetite and is linked to fat levels.
- Higher irisin levels. Irisin regulates energy metabolism.
- Lower adiponectin levels. Adiponectin reduces inflammation.
Together, the effect of these hormone imbalances could lead to obesity or diabetes in adults. While the study found a link between childhood abuse and obesity and related complications in adults, it did not prove that childhood sexual abuse caused these future health problems. Instead, researchers hope this information can lead to better interventions to prevent health complications for adult survivors of childhood abuse.
What to Do If You’ve Been a Victim of Child Sex Abuse
If you are the victim of childhood sexual abuse, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about your risk of future illness. We also encourage you to learn more about your legal rights by watching our free videos and contacting us for a free and confidential consultation.