(HealthDay News) – Emotional neglect as a child may be tied to a higher risk of stroke as an adult, according to a study published online Sept 19 in Neurology.

Robert S. Wilson, PhD, from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a neuropathologic examination in 192 older participants in a longitudinal clinical-pathologic study. The number of chronic cerebral infarcts was assessed from brain autopsies. Prior to death, participants rated adverse childhood experiences.

The researchers found that, after adjusting for other variables, higher adversity was associated with higher likelihood of chronic cerebral infarction. Analyses of childhood adversity subscales showed that, specifically, emotional neglect was associated with infarction (odds ratio [OR], 1.097; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.048–1.148). In those reporting a moderately-high level of childhood emotional neglect (score = 6; 75th percentile), the likelihood of infarction was 2.8 times higher (95% CI, 2–4.1) compared to those reporting a moderately-low level of neglect (score = 1; 25th percentile).

“Further analysis of neuropathologic material from the Rush Memory and Aging cohort will be necessary to appreciate fully the epidemiologic implications of this study. Whether the findings reported in this study are truly causal or reflect systematic differences between those with and without childhood adversity is also difficult to answer with certainty,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “It would be of interest to know if leukocyte telomere length or telomerase activity correlates with cerebral infarction in their population.”

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