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Revista chilena de neuro-psiquiatría

versión On-line ISSN 0717-9227


BEHAR, Rosa  y  BARRA, Flora de la. Child and adolescent sexual abuse and its relationship with eating disorders. Rev. chil. neuro-psiquiatr. [online]. 2021, vol.59, n.4, pp.308-320. ISSN 0717-9227.


A history of childhood sexual abuse (SA) or adolescence in eating disorders (ED) is documented in clinical experience and in the literature. However, the complex relationships between both conditions have not been systematized.


To describe the clinical and neurobiological relationship between SA and ED.


The specialized literature in texts and articles included in Medline/PubMed, SciELO was thoroughly analysed. Central concepts were outlined and information was written seeking didactic cohesion, including an illustrative clinical case.


Although SA is a nonspecific factor for the development of mental disorders, it constitutes a significant predisposing, triggering and perpetuating phenomenon for the emergence of ED, mainly bulimia nervosa. Risk, mediator, predictor, protective and resilience factors are described. Both specific conditions show analogous neurobiological and clinical correlates (core symptoms and adaptive functions). Similar dysfunctions exist in reward and emotional regulation circuits, with limited structural disturbances in prefrontal areas.


There is strong evidence of the coexistence of SA in ED. However, it is necessary to develop research models that truly integrate genetic, hormonal, neurotransmitter, personality and sociocultural risk processes.

Palabras clave : Child Abuse; Adolescent; Sexual; Feeding and Eating Disorders.

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