This study examined whether a self-reported history of childhood maltreatment (physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and physical and emotional neglect) is related to poor adult physical health through health risk behaviors (obesity, substance dependence, and smoking), adverse life events, and psychological distress.
Structural equation modeling was used to simultaneously examine maternal psychological distress and social support as mediators linking maternal childhood trauma (MCT) to both maternal and child-reported behavior at 9 years of age in 231 birth mother-child dyads, who were primarily poor, urban, and African American. One half of the mothers (n = 116) reported a history of childhood abuse and neglect. Although MCT was associated with both increased maternal psychological distress and limited social support at 6 years, the pathway to child behavior ratings at 9 years was informant dependent. MCT influenced maternal ratings of her child’s behavior, with some effects mediated through psychological distress.