Psychobiological Consequences of Child Maltreatment (2018)

Heim C. (2018) Psychobiological Consequences of Child Maltreatment.

In: Noll J., Shalev I. (eds) The Biology of Early Life Stress. Child Maltreatment Solutions Network. Springer, Cham

[Does extensive exposure to extreme internet porn early in life have similar effects in some?]


Adversity in early life, such as childhood abuse, neglect, and loss, is a well-established major risk factor for developing a range of psychiatric and medical disorders later in life. Biological embedding of maltreatment during development is thought to underlie this long-term increased risk. Our results suggest that childhood trauma in humans is associated with sensitization of the stress response, glucocorticoid resistance, decreased oxytocin activity, inflammation, reduced hippocampal volume, and changes in cortical fields that are implicated in the perception or processing of the abuse. The consequences of childhood trauma are moderated by genetic factors and mediated by epigenetic changes in genes relevant for stress regulation. Understanding longitudinal trajectories of biological embedding, and their moderation by gene–environment interaction, is critical to enable us to design novel interventions that directly reverse these processes and to derive biomarkers that identify children who are at risk to develop disorders or are susceptible to a specific intervention.


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