27 July 2010

Can Child Abuse Cause Heart Attacks Later in Life?

*** Stunning new study to tell us why not to spank our kids now as it causes heart disease later in life.

photo by istockphoto

Childhood physical abuse leads to heart disease

From Denny: A controversial new study from Canada is out about how former childhood physical abuse leads to significantly higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks later in life. Spanking is something of which I've never been a fan. Now many are wondering if this constitutes child abuse and will it lead to heart attacks?

From Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor of family and community medicines at University of Toronto, who is also the study's lead author: "Individuals who reported they had been physically abused as children had 45 percent higher odds of heart disease than their peers who had not been abused, despite the fact we had adjusted for most of the known risk factors for heart disease.

How large was the Canadian study?

Geographically it covered two Canadian provinces and involved 13,000 people. Within the study it was found there were seven percent were reported as physical child abuse. Of those seven percent there were four percent who reported they were also diagnosed with heart disease. The report was published in the journal "Child Abuse & Neglect."

Did the study explain the correlation of physical childhood abuse with increased risk of heart disease?

Dr. Fuller-Thomson believes "childhood stress causes lifelong abnormalities in the body's reaction to potentially stressful situations. Children who always have to be vigilant that a parent is not going to come home and beat them - kids who can never relax and are always scanning the environment - may grow into adults who react to almost any stressors. I am against spanking in general. Using words and time-outs tends to be more effective over the long term in instilling self-discipline. You want to minimize physical punishment."

There have been similar studies proving that childhood stress also affects the brain, severely impairing the ability to learn. When stress chemicals bathe the brain it's difficult to focus upon much of anything outside of fright or flight. This study linking childhood stress from abuse to heart disease later in life is no surprise since stress chemicals constantly pumped into our bodies takes its toll eventually.

Please, if you care about your child's future health, don't spank them - no matter how badly behaved they are. Take your time-out and think of a wiser more long term effective strategy as a discipline that does not involve violence. Look at it this way, they won't grow up to resent you. After all, when you get old, it's that same child who chooses your nursing home. :) If you want them to choose wisely later for you, then think twice about choosing wisely for them now while they are young.

Read full report here - The association between childhood physical abuse and heart disease in adulthood: Findings from a representative community sample

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