Title

Early sexual abuse and low cortisol

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Date

3-10-2001

Document Type

Article

Medical Subject Headings

Child; Child Abuse, Sexual; Child, Preschool; Female; Humans; Hydrocortisone; Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic

Disciplines

Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology

Abstract

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder precipitated by a stressful event that produces fear or terror in the individual. Post-traumatic stress disorder studies, particularly in early sexual abuse, have been associated with neuroendocrine dysfunction, most notably the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Since the literature on PTSD and neuroendocrine factors in young subjects has been sparse, the present studies were designed to look at the basal functioning of the HPA axis in response to early sexual abuse in girls aged 5 to 7 years. Morning salivary samples were collected for cortisol determination from subjects and controls who were scheduled for a physical exam by their pediatrician. The present study shows that subjects who had been abused within the last couple of months had significantly lower cortisol in comparison to control subjects (age, social economic status and race matched). The data suggest that children may have an impaired HPA axis after early trauma.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001 Feb;55(1):71-4.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID

11235861