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Childhood abuse or neglect is associated with increased vasomotor symptom reporting among midlife women

Thurston, Rebecca C. PhD1,2; Bromberger, Joyce PhD1,2; Chang, Yuefang PhD2; Goldbacher, Edie MA1; Brown, Charlotte PhD1; Cyranowski, Jill M. PhD1; Matthews, Karen A. PhD1,2

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31805fea75
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Objectives: This study tested the hypothesis that women exposed to childhood abuse or neglect would have an increased likelihood of reporting hot flashes and night sweats during the menopausal transition.

Design: This hypothesis was evaluated in 332 white and African American women participating in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Mental Health Study, a prospective investigation of women transitioning through menopause. Childhood abuse and neglect were measured once with the Child Trauma Questionnaire. Vasomotor symptoms (any/none hot flashes, night sweats) were reported annually over 8 years. Associations between maltreatment and vasomotor symptoms were estimated with generalized estimating equations.

Results: Childhood abuse or neglect was associated with increased reporting of hot flashes (odds ratio = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.23-2.43) and night sweats (odds ratio = 1.75, 95% CI: 1.26-2.43) in age-adjusted models. Results persisted in multivariable models and across several types of abuse and neglect.

Conclusions: The experience of childhood abuse and neglect is associated with increased vasomotor symptom reporting in adulthood. The sequelae of childhood abuse and neglect may persist well into adulthood to influence the occurrence of vasomotor symptoms at midlife.

Findings from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Mental Health Study indicate that the experience of childhood abuse and neglect was associated with increased vasomotor symptom reporting during midlife.

From the 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and 2Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA.

Received January 25, 2007; revised and accepted March 20, 2007.

Funding/support: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation has grant support from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, through the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Office of Research on Women's Health (AG012546, AG012553). Supplemental funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH59689) and the Pittsburgh Mind Body Center (HL076852/076858) are also gratefully acknowledged.

Financial disclosure: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail: thurstonrc@upmc.edu

©2008The North American Menopause Society