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Impact of child sex abuse on adult psychopathology: A genetically and epigenetically informed investigation
Journal of Family Psychology
  • Steven R. H. Beach, University of Georgia
  • Gene H. Brody, University of Georgia
  • Man Kit Lei, University of Georgia
  • Frederick X. Gibbons, University of Connecticut
  • Meg Gerrard, University of Connecticut
  • Ronald L. Simons, University of Georgia
  • Carolyn E. Cutrona, Iowa State University
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Genetic, environmental, and epigenetic influences and their transactions were examined in a sample of 155 women from the Iowa adoptee sample who had been removed from their biological parents shortly after birth and assessed when participants were an average of 41.10 years old. We observed an interactive effect of child sex abuse (CSA) and biological parent psychopathology (i.e., genetic load) on substance abuse as well as a main effect of CSA on substance abuse in adulthood. We also observed main effects of CSA and genetic load on depression and on antisocial characteristics. As predicted, CSA, but not genetic load or later substance abuse, was associated with epigenetic change. In addition, the interaction between genetic load and CSA predicted epigenetic change, indicating a potential genetic basis for a differential impact of CSA on epigenetic change. Finally, epigenetic change partially mediated the effect of CSA on antisocial characteristics. The results suggest the relevance of genetic and epigenetic processes for future theorizing regarding marital and family precursors of several forms of adult psychopathology. Implications for preventive intervention are discussed.

This article is from Journal of Family Psychology 27 (2013): 3–11, doi:10.1037/a0031459. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

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American Psychological Association
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Steven R. H. Beach, Gene H. Brody, Man Kit Lei, Frederick X. Gibbons, et al.. "Impact of child sex abuse on adult psychopathology: A genetically and epigenetically informed investigation" Journal of Family Psychology Vol. 27 Iss. 12 (2013) p. 3 - 11
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