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J Pediatr Psychol. 2010 Jun;35(5):499-510. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsp117. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Child abuse and other traumatic experiences, alcohol use disorders, and health problems in adolescence and young adulthood.

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  • 1, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 1521, USA.



We prospectively examined the health effects of child abuse and other traumatic events, with objective health indicators and consideration of alcohol use disorders (AUD).


Adolescents (n = 668) were recruited from clinical and community sources. At baseline, we examined child abuse and other traumas, AUD, health-related symptoms, physical findings, and blood assays. Subjects were assigned to Trauma Classes (TC), including witnessing violence, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Health outcomes were again determined at 1-year and young adult follow-up.


In adolescence, higher TC severity was associated with more health-related symptoms, increased age-adjusted body mass index, and stress-response immune system indices. In adolescence and young adulthood, the relationships between TC and health-related symptoms were mediated by anxiety. AUD was associated with liver injury, and cigarette smoking with heart/lung symptoms.


Child abuse predicted persistently elevated health-related symptoms primarily attributable to anxiety, and early signs of liver disease were attributable to AUD.

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