Childhood trauma and risk for PTSD: Relationship to intergenerational effects of trauma, parental PTSD, and cortisol excretion

Rachel Yehuda, Sarah L. Halligan, Robert Grossman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Among the adverse mental health consequences of childhood trauma is the risk related to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PfSD) in adulthood. Other risk factors for PfSD, including parental trauma exposure and parental PfSD, can also contribute to the experience of child trauma. We examined associations between childhood trauma and PfSD in 51 adult children of Holocaust survivors and 41 comparison subjects, in consideration of parental trauma exposure and parental PfSD. We also examined these variables in relation to 24-hr urinary cortisol levels. Adult offspring of Holocaust survivors showed significantly higher levels of self-reported childhood trauma, particularly emotional abuse and neglect, relative to comparison subjects. The difference was largely attributable to parental PfSD. Self-reported childhood trauma was also related to severity of PfSD in subjects, and emotional abuse was significantly associated with 24-hr mean urinary cortisol secretion. We conclude that the experience of childhood trauma may be an important factor in the transmission of PfSD from parent to child.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Science of Mental Health
Subtitle of host publicationStress and the Brain - Volume 9
EditorsSteven E. Hyman
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
PublisherRoutledge
Pages177-197
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781317970972
ISBN (Print)9780815337522
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L., & Grossman, R. (2013). Childhood trauma and risk for PTSD: Relationship to intergenerational effects of trauma, parental PTSD, and cortisol excretion. In S. E. Hyman (Ed.), The Science of Mental Health: Stress and the Brain - Volume 9 (pp. 177-197). Routledge.