Emerging research suggests childhood physical abuse increases the chance of dysfunctional physical disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and chemical sensitivities among women.
“Women who reported they had been physically abused as children have twice the odds of chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivities, and 65 percent higher odds of fibromyalgia,” said lead investigator Esme Fuller-Thomson, Ph.D.
“These findings persisted even after controlling for potentially confounding factors such as other adverse childhood experiences, age, race, mental health and adult socioeconomic status.”
The research by Fuller-Thompson and colleagues from the University of Toronto will be published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.
Investigators reviewed findings from a regional subsample of the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey involving 7,342 women, 10 per cent of whom reported being physically abused as children. A minority of women reported they had been diagnosed by a health professional with chronic fatigue syndrome (1.3 percent), fibromyalgia (2.5 percent), or multiple chemical sensitivities (2.7 percent).
Co-author Joanne Sulman said the research not only points to an association between childhood physical abuse and these disorders, but also explores the contribution of confounding psychosocial factors such as other childhood adversities, adult health behaviors and mental health.
“But perhaps the most interesting aspects of the research,” said Sulman, “are the questions it raises, such as the mechanisms that link physical abuse to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities.”
Source: University of Toronto