Research: Childhood trauma and MS


Spitzer C, Bouchain M, Winkler LY, Wingenfeld K, Gold SM, Grabe HJ, Barnow S, Otte C, Heesen C. Childhood Trauma in Multiple Sclerosis: A Case-Control Study. Psychosom Med. 2012 Mar 9. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective:To investigate the association between childhood trauma and multiple sclerosis (MS) by comparing histories of child abuse and neglect between patients with MS and adults from the general population in a cross-sectional case-control study. Previous research has demonstrated a connection between MS and a variety of emotional stressors, but childhood trauma, which is known to have long-lasting negative consequences for physical health decades into adulthood, has not been studied.

Methods: The self-reported Childhood Trauma Questionnaire for the assessment of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and emotional and physical neglect was administered to 234 patients with definite MS and 885 adults from the general population.

Results: After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and current depression, patients with MS scored significantly higher in all Childhood Trauma Questionnaire subscales apart from physical abuse and neglect than adults from the general population. Adjusted odds ratios for these types of childhood trauma were higher in the MS group than in controls, ranging from 2.0 for emotional neglect (95% confidence interval = 1.3-3.2) to 3.4 for emotional abuse (95% confidence interval = 2.0-5.7). Although childhood trauma was not associated with the degree of current MS-related disability, patients with MS with histories of physical and/or sexual abuse had significantly higher relapse rates than patients without early-life stress.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest an association between childhood trauma and MS in this cross-sectional study. Larger prospective longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the relationship between early-life stress and the risk for MS in genetically susceptible individuals.

We have been here before, where inferences from certain science studies, shot from the hip, can cause consternation about the implication. Larger studies are warranted to see if there is really anything to this story

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  • Everybody blames their parents for all problems in their lives anyway. Now more reason for MSers to blame parents.

    Should be obvious I'm family. I don't have MS.

  • i think it´s very difficult to get any good science out from this.The link is to weak. It´s like the story of the black cat, means very bad luck where I live to encounter one, you always remeber it when something bad happened but you never remember the other zillion times you encountered one.
    I have a twin sister, we suffered the same things during our childhood and I got MS and she didn't so there has to be something more to the EBV-infection, which I got as a teen and she didn't.

  • "Everybody blames their parents for all problems in their lives anyway. Now more reason for MSers to blame parents"

    I survived serious physical and sexual abuse, and neglect, as a child – not quite the same as the boringly flippant and negative comment above left by someone too cowardly to leave their name.

    I don't blame my parents because it doesn't change what happened to me. I just live the best life I can, parent my kids positively and accept I have a (currently) incurable disease.

    I'm not at all surprised that prolonged stress as a child has serious long-term health implications.

    The more I learn the more boxes I tick in the MS risk boxes – Born in the summer, had glandular fever, smoked, etc. Do I win a prize ?


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