Childhood Maltreatment Linked to Reduced Gray Matter Volume

Association affected by gender, subtypes of exposure to childhood maltreatment

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to childhood maltreatment (CM) is associated with reduced cerebral gray matter (GM) morphology in adolescents without psychiatric diagnoses, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Erin E. Edmiston, from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues examined the correlation between self-reported exposure to CM and regional GM morphology in 42 adolescents without psychiatric diagnoses. Exposure to CM was measured using a childhood trauma self-report questionnaire for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and for physical and emotional neglect. Voxel-based analyses of structural magnetic resonance images were used to assess the correlation between subtypes of CM exposure and regional GM volume, and the impact of gender was investigated.

The investigators found that there was a significant negative correlation between childhood trauma self-report questionnaire total scores and GM volume in the prefrontal cortex, striatum, amygdala, sensory association cortices, and cerebellum. There was an association for physical abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect with rostral prefrontal reductions. Physical abuse correlated with reductions in the dorsolateral and orbitofrontal cortices, insula, and ventral striatum. Physical neglect was associated with reductions in the cerebellum. Emotional neglect correlated with reductions in the dorsolateral, orbitofrontal, and subgenual prefrontal cortices, striatum, amygdala, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Childhood trauma self-report questionnaire scores in girls were associated with decreases in emotion regulation regions, whereas, for boys, caudate reductions were seen.

"Exposure to CM was associated with corticostriatal-limbic GM reductions in adolescents," the authors write.

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