Child abuse can cause brain changes

Feb. 26, 2010 at 2:27 PM
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DUBLIN, Ireland, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Childhood abuse or emotional neglect can result in structural brain changes, say researchers at Ireland's Trinity College Dublin.

Thomas Frodl at the School of Medicine and Trinity Institute for Neuroscience said the finding was based on a study of 24 patients 18-65, who were being treated for major depression.

The researchers used high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain and childhood stress assessments. Special analysis programs were used to measure brain regions and the results were compared with 27 healthy control subjects matched for age and gender.

"These structural alterations of the brain are associated with a higher vulnerability to depression and a more chronic course of the depression might be associated with further structural changes," Frodl said.

"Therefore, early intervention in the case of major depression is necessary to increase the chance of a good disease outcome."

The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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