Women abused in childhood face increased lupus risk
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Women abused in childhood face increased lupus risk

Women abused in childhood face increased lupus risk

Women abused in childhood face increased lupus riskWomen who experienced physical or emotional abuse in childhood have a significantly increased risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus as adults, according to new research findings.

Systemic lupus erythematosus, also called lupus, is a chronic disease that causes systemic inflammation that affects multiple organs. Lupus flares vary from mild to serious. Most patients have times when the disease is active, followed by times when the disease is mostly quiet, which is called remission. Lupus is far more common in women than men.

Exposure to adverse childhood experiences has specifically been associated with higher levels of inflammation, as well as with changes in immune function, says Candace H. Feldman, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers used validated questionnaire-based measures to assess the level of childhood physical abuse and emotional maltreatment experienced by participants.

There were 93 cases of lupus that developed among the 67,434 women. Women were on average 34.6 years old and were followed for more than 24 years. After taking account of age and race, the researchers found that exposure to the highest and the lowest physical and emotional abuse levels was associated with a more than twofold greater risk of developing lupus.

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