Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, according to an Australian study, tragically afflict sexually abused children.
Margaret C. Cutajar, D.Psych., M.A.P.S., of Monash University, Victoria, Australia, and colleagues linked data from police and medical examinations of sexual abuse cases to a statewide register of psychiatric cases.
Rates of psychiatric disorders among 2,759 individuals who had been sexually abused when younger than age 16 were compared with those among 4,938 individuals in a comparison group drawn from electoral records.
Over a 30-year period, individuals who had experienced childhood sexual abuse had significantly higher rates than those in the comparison group of psychosis overall and schizophrenia disorders.
Participants experienced abuse at an average age of 10.2, and 1,732 of cases involved penetration of a bodily orifice by a penis, finger or other object. Those exposed to this type of abuse had higher rates of psychosis and schizophrenia
"The risks of subsequently developing a schizophrenic syndrome were greatest in victims subjected to penetrative abuse in the peripubertal and postpubertal years from 12 to 16 years and among those abused by more than one perpetrator," the authors wrote.
"Children raped in early adolescence by more than one perpetrator had a risk of developing psychotic syndromes 15 times greater than for the general population," the authors added.
The report appeared in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.