Childhood adversity has been associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and type 2 diabetes risk in adulthood. However, studies have yet to investigate traumatic childhood experiences (TCEs) beyond abuse and neglect (e.g., natural disaster) while considering potential racial/ethnic differences.


To investigate race/ethnicity as a potential modifier of the association between TCEs, MetS, and type 2 diabetes, we used prospectively collected data from 42,173 eligible non-Hispanic White (NHW; 88%), Black/African American (BAA; 7%), and Hispanic/Latina (4%) Sister Study participants (aged 35–74 years) enrolled from 2003 to 2009. A modified Brief Betrayal Trauma Survey captured TCEs. At least three prevalent metabolic abnormalities defined MetS, and self-report of a new diagnosis during the study period defined type 2 diabetes. We used adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for type 2 diabetes over a mean ± SD follow-up of 11.1 ± 2.7 years, overall and by race/ethnicity. We also tested for modification and mediation by MetS.


Incident cases of type 2 diabetes were reported (n = 2,479 among NHW, 461 among BAA, and 281 among Latina participants). Reporting any TCEs (50% among NHW, 53% among BAA, and 51% among Latina participants) was associated with a 13% higher risk of type 2 diabetes (HR 1.13; 95% CI 1.04–1.22). Associations were strongest among Latina participants (HR 1.64 [95% CI 1.21–2.22] vs. 1.09 for BAA and NHW). MetS was not a modifier but mediated (indirect effect, HR 1.01 [95% CI 1.00–1.01]; P = 0.02) the overall association.


TCE and type 2 diabetes associations varied by race/ethnicity and were partially explained by MetS.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.21562296.

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