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Young children especially vulnerable to effects of 9/11
Date:7/14/2010

Two new longitudinal studies show that age played an important role in the effects of the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks on New York City. Both studies appear in a special section on children and disaster in the July/August 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

In the first study, researchers found higher rates of clinically significant behavior problems among preschool children directly exposed to 9/11 in Lower Manhattan according to whether their mothers had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. In the second study, New York City adolescents and their mothers had generally elevated rates of PTSD and depression one year after 9/11. Direct exposure to the events of 9/11 played a small but significant role in explaining the severity of mental health symptoms.

The first study, by researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, and the Bronx Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, looked at more than 100 moms and their preschool children who were directly exposed to the World Trade Center attacks. The families were recruited through extensive outreach in the Lower Manhattan area, primarily to preschools, between March 2003 and December 2005. The researchers asked: What's more important in determining terrorism-related problems in childrendirect exposure to the attacks or indirect exposure to their mothers' attack-related psychological problems? As a follow-up, they asked whether young children exposed to the attacks whose mothers suffered from PTSD and depression were more likely to have serious behavior problems than similar children of moms with neither PTSD nor depression, or with only depression.

The study found that mothers' disaster-related psychological problems had a stronger impact on preschool children than children's direct exposure. Moreover, 9/11-exposed young children of moms with PTSD and depression, as documented by par
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Contact: Sarah Hutcheon
shutcheon@srcd.org
202-289-7905
Society for Research in Child Development
Source:Eurekalert

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