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POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AMONG PRESCHOOLERS EXPOSED TO ONGOING MISSILE ATTACKS IN THE GAZA WAR

Authors

  • Vered Kaufman-Shriqui R.D., Ph.D.,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
    2. The S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,, Israel
    3. Centre for Research on Inner City Health, the Keenan Research Centre in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada
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    • These authors contributed equally to this paper.

  • Nomi Werbeloff Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Psychiatry, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat Gan, Israel
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    • These authors contributed equally to this paper.

  • Michal Faroy Ph.D,

    1. Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel
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  • Gal Meiri M.D., Ph.D,

    1. Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel
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  • Danit R. Shahar R.D., Ph.D.,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
    2. The S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,, Israel
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  • Drora Fraser Ph.D.,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
    2. The S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,, Israel
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  • Yelena Novack Ph.D.,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
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  • Natalya Bilenko Ph.D., M.D.,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
    2. Ministry of Health, Beer-Sheva, Israel
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  • Hillel Vardi M.Sc.,

    1. Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
    2. The S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,, Israel
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  • Naama Elhadad M. Med. Sc.,

    1. Ashalim: The Association for Planning & Development of Services for Children and Youth at Risk and their Families, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Jerusalem, Israel
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  • Robert H. Pietrzak Ph.D., M.P.H.,

    1. Clinical Neurosciences Division, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
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  • Ilan Harpaz-Rotem Ph.D

    1. Clinical Neurosciences Division, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
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  • Clinical Trial Registration: Unique Identifier: NCT01071551.

Correspondence to: Department of Psychiatry “C”, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat Gan 52621, Israel. E-mail: nwerbeloff@gmail.com

Abstract

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.

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