Lasting health impact follows child abuse

July 17, 2018 05:00 PM

(NBC News) A new study of 60,000 women over nearly 30 years suggests those who were forced to endure the horrors of physical or sexual abuse as a child may be at higher risk for developing the debilitating pelvic disease endometriosis.

"Endometriosis is a disease where the tissue that's usually growing in the uterus in fact implants and grows in other places in the body," explains Stacy Missmer from Michigan State University.

The disease is extremely painful and can cause infertility, and researchers found a history of abuse can increase the risk for endometriosis by up to 79 percent.

Experts think early life trauma may create a heightened state of stress in the body, translating into chronic inflammation. 

However, the study authors want to be clear that this is one of many ways childhood trauma can impact victims in adulthood and the finding does not mean all women with endometriosis have a history of abuse.

"What it does mean is that physical and sexual abuse is a real public health issue that is real and far too common and needs to be addressed," said Missmer.

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