History of childhood abuse is accompanied by increased dissociation in young mothers five months postnatally.

Psychopathology

PubMedID: 20110762

Marysko M, Reck C, Mattheis V, Finke P, Resch F, Moehler E. History of childhood abuse is accompanied by increased dissociation in young mothers five months postnatally. Psychopathology. 2010;43(2):104-9.
BACKGROUND
Dissociation has been recognized as a relevant factor within the context of traumatization. Since childhood maltreatment as well as child birth can be regarded as a potential trauma, this study examined dissociation in a sample of 58 young mothers with a history of abuse in comparison to a control group.

METHODS
All women with newborn children were contacted by mail and presented with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Women who reached a cutoff for moderate or severe sexual and/or physical abuse and whose children were term babies with Apgar scores >7 were included in the study to form the index group (n = 58); the control group was formed by matching mothers with no reported experiences of physical and/or sexual abuse (n = 61). Dissociative experiences were assessed by the Scale of Dissociative Experiences (German version of the Dissociative Experiences Scale).

RESULTS
The results show that mothers with a history of physical or sexual abuse - matched for infant gender, maternal education, marital status, number of infants and birth weight - had significantly more dissociative experiences.

CONCLUSIONS
Maternal history of abuse significantly increases maternal dissociative experiences, which has frequently been postulated but never empirically shown in a prospective design in a sample of young mothers. As maternal psychopathology has been found to have a profound impact on child development, specifically in the first year of life, these data are of immediate relevance for preventive efforts when targeting at-risk mother-infant dyads.