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Study shows that early abuse is tied to higher rates of depression in children

Megan GunnarDante CicchettiDante Cicchetti, PhD, professor in the Institute of Child Development and the department of psychiatry, and Megan Gunnar, PhD, professor in the Institute of Child Development, have published findings in the January/February issue of Child Development from a new study conducted in conjunction with the University of Rochester and Mt. Hope Family Center. The study examined 500 low-income children ages 7 to 13, about half of whom had been abused and/or neglected. High levels of depression were found in children who were abused in the first five years of their lives, and more importantly, it was found that the body's biological systems for adapting to stress had been compromised. The research suggests that early abuse is more damaging as the brain and body are rapidly developing and children are more dependent on caregivers for protection. The results of this study strongly underscore the need for early interventions for children who have been abused.

Cicchetti, D., Rogosch, F.A., Gunnar, M.R., and Toth, S.L. (2010). The differential impacts of early physical and sexual abuse and internalizing problems on daytime cortisol rhythm in school-aged children. Child Development, 81, (1).

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