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.