9/11 had increased impact on traumatised children

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Washington, Feb 5 (UNI) The terrorist strikes of 9/11 had an increased impact on children who were already in the grip of emotional trauma, a study says.

A study on the behavioural problems of children due to traumatic events revealed that children with a previous frightening experience who witnessed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, or saw its victims, were at high risk of developing lingering emotional and behaviour problems.

The study which appeared in the journal The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine published by the American Medical Association, surveyed the parents of 116 children who were 1-5 years old on September 11, 2001. The children lived or went to school near the World Trade Center and were very close to the site and had witnessed the unfortunate incident.

It was found that more than 40 per cent of the children who had sequential traumas suffered from depression, emotional outbursts, poor sleep or some combination three years later.

On the contrary, those who hadn't had any earlier trauma and had witnessed the attack, showed little or no sign of any psychological scar.

Any new scare or crisis increased the psychological trauma of children who were nursing a previous emotional wound, the study suggested.

A truly frightening experience appears to heighten baseline activity in circuits involving the amygdala, a subcortical area that registers threat, and makes it harder for higher areas of the brain to inhibit amygdala response. If the system is hit again by another trauma, it can become chronically over-reactive, the study concluded.


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