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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


PEREDA, Noemí  and  GALLARDO-PUJOL, David. Neurobiological consequences of child sexual abuse: a systematic review. Gac Sanit [online]. 2011, vol.25, n.3, pp.233-239. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objective: The results of several studies suggest that there is a critical timeframe during development in which experiences of maltreatment and sexual abuse may lead to permanent or long-lasting neurobiological changes that particularly affect the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis response. The aim of the present study was to provide an updated review on the main neurobiological consequences of child sexual abuse. Methods: We selected articles published between January 1999 and January 2010 in English or Spanish that focused on the neurobiological consequences of child sexual abuse available through Medline, Scopus and Web of Science. We also examined the references in published articles on the consequences of sexual victimization in childhood. Results: In this review we included 34 studies on neurobiological consequences, indicating different kinds of effects, namely: neuroendocrine, structural, functional and neuropsychological consequences, which affect a large number of victims. Conclusions: The existing body of work on the neurobiological consequences of maltreatment shows the need to consider maltreatment and child sexual abuse as health problems that affect different areas of victims' lives, which would in turn favor the development of intervention and treatment programs that take these multiple effects into account.

Keywords : Child sexual abuse; Neurobiology; Impacts on health; Review.

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