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Kids of Deployed Soldiers Vulnerable to Stress

Study found one-third were at risk for psychosocial problems

FRIDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- About one-third of children of deployed U.S. Army soldiers are at high risk for psychosocial problems, mainly due to high levels of stress experienced by the parent who is still at home, a new study shows.

The research included the spouses (mainly wives) of 101 deployed Army personnel. Participants completed a series of questionnaires and provided information about their children, aged 5 to 12.

The researchers concluded that 32 percent of the children were at high risk for psychosocial problems. This doesn't mean they had psychological problems, but that they were more vulnerable to developing such disorders. That rate is 2.5 times higher than among children in the general population.

The study also found that children of parents with high stress levels were about seven times more likely to be at high risk for psychosocial problems. Psychosocial problems were less likely among children whose parents received support from military organizations and among children of college-educated parents.

The study appears in the August issue of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

"Military, family and community supports help mitigate family stress during periods of deployment," Dr. Eric M. Flake, of the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., and colleagues, wrote in a journal news release.

Although support resources are currently more readily available to families on military bases, all families of deployed soldiers should be offered these resources, the researchers said. They also recommended that pediatricians and family doctors ask patients about parent and child stress in families with a deployed member of the military.

More information

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has more about families in the military.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, news release, Aug. 11 2009

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