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Sexually transmitted diseases in abused children and adolescents


The prevalence of abnormal physical signs (e.g., bleeding, scars, or bruises) and genital infections, notably Chlamydia Trachomatis, Neisseria Gonorrhea, and Herpes Simplex Genitalis was studied in 219 female children with validated sexual abuse. They were compared to 113 nonabused female children. The average abused child was 8.3 years old, with 69% having been abused on multiple occasions. Most offenders were family members (65%) or a close family friend (22%). Stranger-perpetrated sexual assault, in the sample, was low (9.1%). Few children had severe vaginal tears, though 56% showed signs of subtle anatomical injury to their genitalia. No similar anatomical abnormalities were present in nonabused children. Among the sexually abused children and adolescents, 35% were colonized with a pathogen or a potential pathogen, compared to a prevalence rate of 18.5% in non-abused children. The proportion of abused children colonized with Ureaplasma Urealyticum and Mycoplasma Hominis was not significantly different from that found in nonabused children. At present, Neisseria gonorrhea and Chlamydia Trachomatis remain the only conclusive markers for sexual abuse. It is recommended that routine cultures of the pharyngeal, rectal, and vaginal areas be taken in all cases of suspected child sexual abuse, regardless of clinical findings.

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Rouget, A.C., Lang, R.A. & Joffres, M.R. Sexually transmitted diseases in abused children and adolescents. Annals of Sex Research 1, 95–114 (1988).

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  • Sexual Abuse
  • Herpes Simplex
  • Abuse Child
  • Child Sexual Abuse
  • Chlamydia Trachomatis