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Child Health Fatigue Mental Health

Psychological trauma in childhood linked to CFS

9 years, 10 months ago

1310  0
Posted on Jan 07, 2009, 4 a.m. By Rich Hurd

Children who experience psychological trauma are at increased risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adulthood, new research suggests.

Children who experience psychological trauma are at increased risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adulthood, new research suggests.

Christine Heim and colleagues studied 113 people with CFS and 124 without the debilitating disease. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that enquired about childhood trauma (emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and emotional and physical neglect) and psychopathological conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. They were also asked to provide a saliva sample within one hour of wakening so that the researchers could determine their cortisol levels.

Results showed that participants with CFS had experienced significantly higher levels of childhood trauma and psychopathological symptoms than participants who did not suffer from CFS. So much so, that exposure to childhood trauma was associated with a 6-fold increased risk of CFS. Furthermore, participants with CFS and who had been exposed to psychological trauma were found to have significantly lower salivary cortisol levels than participants without CFS.  

The researchers concluded: “Our results confirm childhood trauma as an important risk factor of CFS. In addition, neuroendocrine dysfunction, a hallmark feature of CFS, appears to be associated with childhood trauma. This possibly reflects a biological correlate of vulnerability due to early developmental insults.”

Heim C,Nater UM, Maloney E, Boneva R, Jones JF, Reeves WC. Childhood Trauma and Risk for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Association With Neuroendocrine Dysfunction. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66:72-80.

 

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