This meta-analysis aimed to examine the association of child abuse with adult coronary heart disease (CHD) risk and separately by abuse subtypes, including emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse.
Data were extracted from studies published up through December 2021 and based on research from PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and PsycINFO. Studies were selected if they included adults with or without any type of child abuse and measured the risk of any type of CHD. Statistical analyses were conducted in 2022. The random effects model was used to pool the effect estimates presented by RRs with 95% CIs. Heterogeneity was assessed using Q and I2 statistics.
The pooled estimates were synthesized using 24 effect sizes from 10 studies with a sample size of 343,371 adults. Adults with child abuse were associated with higher risk of CHD compared with those without (RR=1.52, 95% CI=1.29, 1.79), and the association was similar for myocardial infarction (RR=1.50, 95 % CI=1.08, 2.10) and unspecified CHD (RR=1.58, 95% CI=1.23, 2.02). Moreover, emotional (RR=1.48, 95% CI=1.29, 1.71), sexual (RR=1.47, 95% CI=1.15, 1.88), and physical abuse (RR=1.48, 95% CI=1.22, 1.79) were associated with increased risk of CHD.
Child abuse was associated with an increased risk of adult CHD. Results were generally consistent across abuse subtypes and sex. The present study advocates further research on biological mechanisms linking child abuse to CHD, as well as improvement in CHD risk prediction and targeted prevention approaches.
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