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Pathways from childhood maltreatment to cardiometabolic disease: a research review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jessie R. Baldwin, Andrea Danese

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalAdoption and Fostering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

King's Authors


Childhood maltreatment is a risk factor for poor physical health outcomes in later life, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In order to target preventive interventions to reduce this risk, it is important to understand the biological mechanisms linking childhood maltreatment to cardiometabolic disorders. Research reviewed here suggests that maltreated children show alterations in biological systems relating to metabolism and the immune system which could, in turn, increase the risk of long-term cardiometabolic disease risk. Specifically, maltreated children show an elevated risk of obesity in adulthood and greater inflammation levels in adolescence and adulthood. These findings from observational studies of humans are consistent with evidence from experimental animal models showing the causal effects of early life stress on obesity and immune function. To help prevent maltreated children from developing cardiometabolic disease later in life, clinical assessment and treatment should focus on physical as well as mental health.

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