Childhood trauma has long been known to raise a child’s odds of developing depression and addiction later on. Now, a small but intriguing new study links these risks to specific changes in the brain, finding that disruptions in certain neural networks are associated with increased chances of substance use disorders, depression or both in teens.
Researchers at the University of Texas studied 32 teens, 19 of whom had been maltreated in childhood but did not have a current psychiatric disorder. The researchers defined child trauma or maltreatment as any type of significant abuse or neglect lasting six months or longer, or a major traumatic experience like life-threatening illness, witnessing domestic violence or losing a parent before age 10. The other 13 participants in the study served as the control group, having no history of major child trauma or psychiatric problems.
All of the teens were followed up every six…
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