Background: Maltreatment during childhood and adolescence has been associated with chronic conditions in adulthood including cardiovascular disease. However, less is known about the effects of childhood maltreatment on cardiovascular risk factors prior to development of cardiovascular disease, or whether these effects are evident in young adulthood. Furthermore, few studies have examined sex differences and most studies have relied on self-reported outcome measures that are subject to misclassification. Methods: We examined the relationship between child maltreatment and hypertension in young adulthood in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative school-based sample of US adolescents. Participants retrospectively (mean age 29.9, n = 11384) reported on their experiences of child maltreatment prior to the 6th grade (prior to age 11) during follow-up. Child neglect, physical and sexual violence as well as a measure of social services visits to the home were examined. Blood pressure was measured during an in-home visit. Hypertension was defined as measured SBP of at least 140 mmHg or DBP of at least 90 mmHG measured in adulthood, or self-reported use of antihypertensive medications. Results: In adjusted models, women who experienced sexual abuse in early childhood had a higher prevalence of hypertension (Prevalence Ratio (PR) 1.43 95% CI 1.00, 2.05) compared to women who did not experience sexual abuse. Among men, experiencing sexual abuse was not statistically significantly associated with hypertension. Experiencing neglect, physical abuse or having visitations by social services at home during childhood was not associated with hypertension among either women or men. Conclusion: Sexual abuse in early childhood is associated with hypertension in young women.
- Blood pressure
- Child maltreatment