Objective; To examine the relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) before the age of 16 years and later onset of bulimia and anorexia nervosa symptoms in females.
Design; A longitudinal cohort study of adolescents observed from August 1992 to March 2003. The cohort was defined in a 2-stage cluster sample using 44 Australian schools in Victoria.
Participants; A total of 1936 persons participated at least once and were survey again to the age of 24 years, including 999 females. The average age at the start of follow-up was 15 years; and at completion, 24 years.
Self-reported CSA before the age of 16 years was ascertained retrospectively at the age of 24 years.
Results The incidence of bulimic syndrome during adolescence was
- 2.5 times higher among those who reported 1 episode of CSA and
- 4.9 times higher among those who reported 2 or more episodes of CSA,
This when compared with females reporting no episodes, adjusted for age and background factors.
The association persisted after adjusting for possible confounders or mediators measured 6 months earlier, including psychiatric morbidity and dieting behavior. There was little evidence of an association between CSA and partial syndromes of incident anorexia nervosa.
Conclusion; Childhood sexual abuse seems to be a risk factor for the development of bulimic syndromes.
Childhood Sexual Abuse and Eating Disorders in Females: Findings From the Victorian, Australia Adolescent Health Cohort Study. Lena Sanci, MBBS, PhD, FRACGP; Carolyn Coffey, BSc, Grad Dip Epi; Craig Olsson, PhD; Sophie Reid, PhD; John B. Carlin, PhD; George Patton, MBBS, MD, FRANZCP. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(3):261-267.