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It has been estimated that as many as 30 percent of child abuse victims go on to abuse their own children. However, Jennie Noll’s intergenerational work focuses on the complex network of risk factors that may be operating in the lives of children born to childhood abuse victims and how many of these children are at risk for:
Results from our three-generation study indicate that abused mothers were also more likely to be high school dropouts, obese and have experienced psychiatric problems, substance and alcohol dependence and domestic violence. Offspring born to mothers with histories of abuse were more likely to be born preterm, have a cognitive deficit, adopt an insecure attachment style, have a teenage mom, and be involved in child protective services (CPS) than were comparison offspring. Thus, these data provide some of the first evidence for an intergenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment, and demonstrate the compounded deleterious effects on offspring of teen mothers who were also abused in childhood. Noll’s intergenerational work underscores the potential advantages of intervention and prevention programs for victims of childhood maltreatment and their families. Primary prevention / intervention efforts extending throughout development and focusing on the cumulative risk to offspring will likely improve victim outcomes and curtail intergenerational transmission of adversity.
Our ongoing longitudinal study the Female Growth and Development Study (FGDS), originally conducted by Penny Trickett and Frank Putnam, is one of the longest ongoing studies of female development and childhood sexual abuse and is now entering its 25th year of funding. Participants were originally recruited from the Washington, DC, area 1987 and are now all over the country. The chief aims are to learn more about female development and how the effects of adverse development are transmitted across generations. We are also exploring how the environment interacts with biology to impact adjustment and resilience.
Trickett, PK., Noll, JG, & Putnam, FW. The impact of sexual abuse on female development: lessons from a multigenerational, longitudinal research study. Development and Psychopathology 2011; 23:453-476. doi: 10.1017/S095457941000174. PMCID: PMC Journal – In Process.
Kwako LE, Noll JG, Putnam FW, Trickett PK. Childhood sexual abuse and attachment: an intergenerational perspective. Journal of Clinical Child Psychiatry and Psychology. 15(3): 407-422. 2010.
Noll JG, Trickett PK, Harris WW, Putnam FW. The cumulative burden borne by offspring whose mothers were sexually abused as children: descriptive results from a multigenerational study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 24(3):424-49. 2009.
Kihyun K, Noll JG,Putnam FW, Trickett PK. Psychosocial characteristics of nonoffending mothers of sexually abused girls: findings from a prospective, multigenerational study. Child Maltreatment. 12(4):338-351. 2007.
Noll JG, Schulkin J, Trickett PK, Susman EJ, Breech LB, Putnam FW. Differential pathways to preterm delivery for sexually abused and comparison women. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 32(10): 1-11. 2007.
20-year intergenerational longitudinal follow-up of females abused as children.Principal Investigator Noll: NIH/NICHD R03HD0606042010-2012
Cortisol Activity and Sexual Abuse: Effects across development.Principal Investigator Noll: NIH/NICHD R03 HD0453462004-2006
The Offspring of Maltreated Mothers: Prenatal and Infant Health.Principal Investigator Noll: NIH/NICHD K01 HD414022002-2007
Figure A - click to enlarge
The two images visually represent transgenerational risk factors such as maternal depression, domestic violence, and insecure attachment that may impact the lives of offspring. Each symbol or “rock” along the horizontal time line representing the offspring’s life indicates a risk factor that may contribute to hardships in the offspring’s life. Figure A represents transgenerational risk factors for the Abused sample of the study, and Figure B represents risk for the Comparison sample.
G1: Generation 1; the caregiver of the adolescent participantsG2: Generation 2; the adolescent/young adult participantsG3: Generation 3; the offspring of the adolescent/young adult adolescents
X Axis: G2 ageY Axis: G3 age
Each red line begins at the age at which the offspring (G3) was born to the adolescent/young adult participant (G2), and ends to represent the age of the offspring at the time of last data collection. Red lines represent children who are alive and black lines represent children who are deceased. The numbers to the right of each line indicate ??? and whether or not that number is blue or pink indicates the gender of the child. Jennie, what do the asterisks represent?
When compared, Figure A is noticeably “heavy” with rocks or risk factors in contrast to Figure B. When figuratively speaking of knapsack “weight” for the offspring, risk factors occurring during the offspring’s life time were weighted twice, the knapsack weight of the Abused G3 sample was 8.71 (p<.05) which was significantly heavier than the knapsack weight of the Comparison G3 sample, 5.37.
Age, minority status, gender, and sibling number (0-3) were covaried in each analysis. Dep = depression; Vict = victimization; Viol = violence; PTSD = posttraumatic stress disorder; CPS = child protective services.
Figure B - click to enlarge
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