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Harsh Physical Punishment Tied to Later Health Conditions

MONDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Harsh physical punishment during childhood (including pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting), in the absence of more severe child maltreatment, is associated with an increased likelihood of certain physical health conditions later in life, according to a study published online July 15 in Pediatrics.

To examine the correlation between harsh physical punishment and physical health conditions, Tracie O. Afifi, Ph.D., from the University of Manitoba in Canada, and colleagues assessed eight past year physical health condition categories among 34,226 participants (aged 20 years or older) of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

The researchers found that, after adjustment for sociodemographic variables, family history of dysfunction, and Axis I and II mental disorders, harsh physical punishment correlated with increased odds of cardiovascular disease (borderline significance), arthritis, and obesity. The adjusted odds ratios ranged from 1.20 to 1.30.

"These findings inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment and provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is associated with a higher likelihood of physical health conditions," the authors write.

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