Posttraumatic stress disorder among preschoolers exposed to ongoing missile attacks in the Gaza war. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: The prevalence and manifestation of posttraumatic stress symptoms in young children may differ from that observed in adults. This study examined sociodemographic, familial, and psychosomatic correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among preschool children and their mothers who had been exposed to ongoing missile attacks in the Gaza war. METHODS: One hundred and sixty-seven mothers of preschoolers (aged 4.0-6.5 years) were interviewed regarding PTSD and psychosomatic symptomatology of their children, as well as their own reactions to trauma. RESULTS: Fourteen mothers (8.4%) and 35 children (21.0%) screened positive for PTSD. Sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with PTSD among mothers or children. Among children, the only significant risk factor was having a mother with PTSD (OR = 12.22, 95% CI 2.75-54.28). Compared to children who did not screen positive for PTSD, those who did screen positive displayed significantly higher rates of psychosomatic reactions to trauma, most notably constipation or diarrhea (OR = 4.36, 95% CI 1.64-11.60) and headaches (OR = 2.91, 95% CI 1.07-7.94). CONCLUSIONS: Results of this study add to the burgeoning literature on child PTSD, emphasizing the important role of maternal anxiety and the psychosomatic reactions associated with exposure to ongoing traumatic experiences in young children. Language: en

publication date

  • January 1, 2013