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J Pediatr Psychol. 2013 Jan-Feb;38(1):94-103. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jss101. Epub 2012 Sep 23.

Early life trauma exposure and stress sensitivity in young children.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT 06030, USA. mbriggsgowan@uchc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The current study replicates and extends work with adults that highlights the relationship between trauma exposure and distress in response to subsequent, nontraumatic life stressors.

METHODS:

The sample included 213 2-4-year-old children in which 64.3% had a history of potential trauma exposure. Children were categorized into 4 groups based on trauma history and current life stress.

RESULTS:

In a multivariate analysis of variance, trauma-exposed children with current life stressors had elevated internalizing and externalizing problems compared with trauma-exposed children without current stress and nontrauma-exposed children with and without current stressors. The trauma-exposed groups with or without current stressors did not differ on posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity. Accounting for number of traumatic events did not change these results.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings suggest that early life trauma exposure may sensitize young children and place them at risk for internalizing or externalizing problems when exposed to subsequent, nontraumatic life stressors.

PMID:
23008502
PMCID:
PMC3547236
DOI:
10.1093/jpepsy/jss101
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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