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Child Maltreat. 2013 Aug;18(3):171-83. doi: 10.1177/1077559513497420. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Neuropsychological findings in pediatric maltreatment: relationship of PTSD, dissociative symptoms, and abuse/neglect indices to neurocognitive outcomes.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC, USA.


Maltreated (n = 38), maltreated + posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; n = 60), and control youth (n = 104) underwent comprehensive neuropsychological testing. The two maltreated groups performed significantly lower on IQ, academic achievement, and nearly all of the neurocognitive domains than controls. Maltreated + PTSD performed significantly worse than maltreated youth without PTSD on a task in the visuospatial domain that assessed higher order visuoconstructive abilities. No group differences were evident on the fine motor domain. PTSD diagnosis duration negatively correlated with the visuospatial, and dissociation negatively correlated with the attention domain. Cumulative lifetime maltreatment types experienced negatively correlated with academic achievement. Sexual abuse negatively correlated with language and memory functions after controlling for other maltreatment types. These data support the adverse effects of maltreatment on neuropsychological functions in youth and suggest that all child protective services identified youth should be comprehensively examined for the integrity of their neuropsychological functioning and academic skills, regardless of the presence or absence of mental health symptoms.


child maltreatment; child sexual abuse; child victims; child welfare services/child protection; cognitive development; neurocognition

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