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Childhood Abuse Identified as Culprit in Higher Risk for Osteoarthritis Later

There are a number of problems that can emerge in an individual’s life as a result of abuse they suffered as a child. The latest research into this field demonstrates that adults who experienced abuse as a child have 56 percent higher odds of osteoarthritis compared with those who have not been abused.

This study, which was conducted by University of Toronto researchers, was recently summarized in Science Daily. These researchers investigated the relationship between self-reported childhood physical abuse and a diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA). After analyzing data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, a relationship was confirmed.

“We found that 10.2 per cent of those with osteoarthritis reported they had been physically abused as children in comparison to 6.5 per cent of those without osteoarthritis,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson of U of T’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Department of Family and Community Medicine.

“This study provides further support for the need to investigate the possible role that childhood abuse plays in the development of chronic illness.”

Sarah Brennenstuhl, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, also worked on this project and co-authored the study. She noted that researchers were surprised that there was such a significant association between childhood physical abuse and osteoarthritis and that is persisted even after controlling for major confounding factors.

The researchers believe that one important avenue for future research is to identify and evaluate specific pathways through which arthritis may develop as a result of childhood physical abuse. This could help lead to the discovery of other negative consequences of such childhood trauma.

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