Background Childhood trauma (CT) has been cross-sectionally associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS), a group of biological risk factors for cardiometabolic disease. Longitudinal studies, while rare, would clarify the development of cardiometabolic dysregulations over time. Therefore, we longitudinally investigated the association of CT with the 9-year course of MetS components. Methods Participants (N = 2958) from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety were assessed four times across 9 years. The CT interview retrospectively assessed childhood emotional neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Metabolic outcomes encompassed continuous MetS components (waist circumference, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein [HDL] cholesterol, blood pressure [BP], and glucose) and count of clinically elevated MetS components. Mixed-effects models estimated sociodemographic- and lifestyle-adjusted longitudinal associations of CT with metabolic outcomes over time. Time interactions evaluated change in these associations. Results CT was reported by 49% of participants. CT was consistently associated with increased waist (b = 0.32, s.e. = 0.10, p = 0.001), glucose (b = 0.02, s.e. = 0.01, p < 0.001), and count of MetS components (b = 0.04, s.e. = 0.01, p < 0.001); and decreased HDL cholesterol (b = -0.01, s.e.<0.01, p =.020) and systolic BP (b = -0.33, s.e. = 0.13, p = 0.010). These associations were mainly driven by severe CT and unaffected by lifestyle. Only systolic BP showed a CT-by-time interaction, where CT was associated with lower systolic BP initially and with higher systolic BP at the last follow-up. Conclusions Over time, adults with CT have overall persistent poorer metabolic outcomes than their non-maltreated peers. Individuals with CT have an increased risk for cardiometabolic disease and may benefit from monitoring and early interventions targeting metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Early online date2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023


  • adverse childhood experiences
  • child abuse
  • childhood maltreatment
  • metabolic syndrome

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