Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) may be related to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the future, especially among women, according to research conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The researchers studied the correlation between COPD and childhood abuse and household dysfunction.
The scientists concluded that 63.1% of the participants reported ACE before they were 18 years old, in a data set where 12.7% of the women and 4.4% of the men suffered from asthma and COPD. The research included data about 26,546 women and 19,015 men from five different sites in the United States. In addition to the relationship between childhood abuse and household dysfunction with COPD, researchers also analyzed the age, gender, race, marital status, education, and smoking status.
In addition, “men were significantly more likely to report childhood verbal abuse,” while “women were significantly more likely to report childhood sexual abuse; living with a substance abusing household member; living with a mentally ill household member; and to report 5 or more ACEs compared to men.”
Women who experienced ACE revealed more probability of developing COPD later in their lives than women who did not suffer any child trauma. “For women who were never smokers, there was still a higher likelihood of COPD associated with physical abuse, sexual abuse, and living with a substance abusing household member during childhood,” the investigators wrote.
Among men, the correlation between ACE and COPD development was not as strong. Suffering ACEs had already been demonstrated to be associated with other chronic conditions, like depression, heart disease, cancer, diabetes or stroke. However, there is not much prior research on its relationship with the development of COPD. The researchers also noted, though, that despite the clear correlation between COPD, ACEs and gender, the reasons that trigger this trend were not possible to evaluate with this study only.
“Programs and policies that address the underlying problems caused by experiences of childhood maltreatment and household dysfunction may prove more effective than traditional smoking prevention and cessation strategies alone,” the writers stated. “Further research examining sex differences in the relationship between ACEs and chronic diseases in adulthood is warranted.”