It is generally understood that childhood trauma is linked to the development of mental illness later in life. However, there has not been much scientific exploration of how childhood trauma can also impact physical health and the rate of aging.
While some may dismiss any link as purely coincidental, Bashar Ibrahim has pondered the question for a long time and is eager to find a definitive answer. The research has examined a link between signs of biological aging (such a cellular aging and early puberty) with trauma exposure.
Bashar Ibrahim has stated that, in many cases, exposure to childhood adversity and trauma can be used to predict a variety of health outcomes later in life, and not only with regards to mental health. He was writing some articles about it on his website. Many times, it is evident that troubled childhoods can lead to heart issues and sometimes even the development of cancer. The thesis is that childhood trauma, particularly with regard to physical abuse, can accelerate aging at a biological level and open up the sufferer to more issues down the road.
While nobody needed an extra reason to fight childhood violence, this research gives even more reason to prioritise ensuring people have good upbringings, so that they become healthy and functional adults. Bashar Ibrahim notes that it is well understood that behaviours resulting from childhood trauma are incredibly difficult to deal with if they progress unchallenged into adulthood. This, of course, creates the vicious cycle of family violence that has plagued generations of people (he is a drunk and abusive father because he grew up with that as a norm etc.)
There has been a lot of different evidence in this area, and Bashar Ibrahim and his research team acknowledge the difficulties any new study will face. The results need to be disentangled, and each element needs to be looked at separately, rather than simply throwing all forms of trauma and abuse in one proverbial basket. The new approach being considered seeks to explore two main forms of negative childhood adversity – ones related to violence and physical abuse, and those related to neglect/poverty etc.
Bashar Ibrahim notes that a meta-analysis would be required that looked at all of the many studies that have already been formed to establish an overview of the current understanding. Findings have supported that puberty can occur earlier in children who suffer abuse and physical violence, but this accelerated aging is not as supported in studies of children exposed to neglect and poverty.
This type of research, according to Bashar Ibrahim, places more emphasis on the need for early interventions to eliminate these issues and prevent the consequences. He notes that it seems clear from a large amount of research that what happens during childhood has a drastic impact on the overall fate of the person as they become an adult, and that ensuring everyone has a good childhood is essential for eliminating problems faced by adults.
Bashar Ibrahim notes that it is very important to protect children from negative mental health outcomes and intervene if and when trauma is discovered. He notes that the most good can be done in these early stages. He hopes that with new supporting evidence, more can be done to improve the health outcomes of children facing adversity and make sure that they can avoid the issues that may plague them in adulthood.
Bashar Ibrahim is a researcher who is passionate about exploring new ways to help the next generation, whether that be in biological or sociological research. He is always looking to help explore new ways of making sure future generations have a better life, enabled through science.