New York: Watch out if your child is bullied in school. Bullied children may experience chronic, systemic inflammation that persists into adulthood, reveals research.
On the other hand, bullies may actually reap health benefits of increasing their social status through bullying.
"Our findings look at the biological consequences of bullying, and by studying a marker of inflammation, provide a potential mechanism for how this social interaction can affect later health functioning," said lead author William E. Copeland.
Earlier studies have suggested that victims of childhood bullying suffer social and emotional consequences into adulthood, including increases in anxiety and depression.
Yet, bullied children also report health problems, such as pain and illness susceptibility, which may extend beyond psychological outcomes.
"Among victims of bullying, there seems to be some impact on health status in adulthood," said Copeland, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University.
"In this study, we asked whether childhood bullying can get 'under the skin' to affect physical health."
Using the blood samples of participants, the researchers measured C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of low-grade inflammation and a risk factor for health problems including metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Although CRP levels rose for all groups as they entered adulthood, victims of childhood bullying had much higher CRP levels as adults than the other groups.
In fact, the CRP levels increased with the number of times the individuals were bullied.
The study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.