Childhood Sexual Abuse May Raise Risk for Psychosis

Abuse involving penetration associated with higher risk, especially for schizophrenic disorders

TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood sexual abuse involving penetration appears to increase the risk of developing psychotic disorders later in life, according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Margaret C. Cutajar, of Monash University in Clifton Hill, Australia, and colleagues studied mental health data on 2,759 subjects who had been sexually abused as children, matched with community-based controls, to explore whether childhood sexual abuse raises the risk for subsequent psychotic disorders.

The researchers found rates for general psychosis, and particularly for schizophrenic disorders, significantly higher in the childhood sexual abuse subjects than in the controls (2.8 versus 1.4 percent for general psychosis and 1.9 versus 0.7 percent for schizophrenic disorders in abuse subjects and controls, respectively). Risk for later psychosis was highest in those whose abuse occurred after age 12, involved penetration, and involved more than one perpetrator. Abuse without penetration was not related to significant increases in general psychosis or schizophrenia.

"Child sexual abuse involving penetration is a risk factor for developing psychotic and schizophrenic syndromes. The risk is greater for adolescents subjected to penetration. Irrespective of whether this statistical association reflects any causal link, it does identify an at-risk population in need of ongoing support and treatment," the authors write.

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