Monthly Archives: September 2014

Early Life Trauma Changes Hormone Levels Related to Obesity

Leptin signals in healthy person

A number of studies have now linked early life trauma to obesity. A new study out of King’s College London has made findings about one of the underlying mechanisms in the body by which this happens.

Scientists identified the hormone leptin as a potentially relevant part of the process. Leptin is a hormone the healthy human body releases in response to increasing levels of fat. It reduces appetite and increases energy expenditure.

Hypothesizing that the effects of the hormone leptin may be involved in the process by which child maltreatment leads to obesity, researchers looked at a 172 twelve-year-old children, some of whom had come from homes involving documented physical maltreatment and some who came from homes without such maltreatment. They looked at leptin levels, BMI, and an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein.

The researchers found that the maltreated children had lower leptin levels in relation to higher levels of obesity and inflammation.

Stated another way, this means that children who had suffered childhood physical abuse were found to have altered hormone levels which negatively affect the body’s mechanism for regulating obesity.

This study was published on September 23, 2014 in the Journal Translational Psychology. You can read the article at this link: Leptin Deficiency in Maltreated Children.

Study Confirms High Rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Juvenile Offenders

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Juvenile Justice

The Florida Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the University of Florida recently conducted a study that showed starkly higher rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Juvenile Justice offenders than in the general population.

While the ACE Study (the “Adverse Childhood Experiences Study”) out of Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control previously made showings proportionately connecting adverse childhood experiences with adverse adult experiences using large samples, the recent Florida study was the first in the United States to focus specifically on juvenile offenders. Out of over 64,000 juvenile offenders surveyed, only 2.8 percent reported no childhood adversity. This very strong finding does not even account for the potential for underreporting, which is common, and acknowledged by the study’s authors.

The Florida study appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of the Journal of Juvenile Justice and looked at 10 types of childhood adversity, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; emotional and physical neglect; household substance abuse; witnessing a mother being abused; household mental illness; losing a parent to separation or divorce; and having an incarcerated family member.

Dr. Michael Baglivio, co-author of the study, said importantly as follows: “This shows that youth in the juvenile justice system were indeed victims of child abuse, neglect, and dysfunctional homes, prior to, or at least current with, being ‘offenders'”.

The study’s authors recommend, among other things, that our juvenile justice systems, child welfare systems, and governments in general become more “trauma informed”.