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Israeli preschool children under Scuds: a 30-month follow-up.

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  • 1Tel Aviv Brull Community Mental Health Center, Israel.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Longitudinal studies of children exposed to traumatic events show contrasting findings regarding their symptomatic change over time. The present study reports on a 30-month follow-up of preschool children and their mothers who had been exposed to Scud missile attacks.

METHOD:

Families displaced during the Gulf War after their homes had been damaged by the missile attack and a control group whose homes remained intact were interviewed about posttraumatic and general symptomatology, the mothers' capacity to control images, and the children's adaptive behavior.

RESULTS:

Stress symptoms decreased in the displaced children but not in their mothers. Both reported more posttraumatic symptoms than did the control group. No differences in the children's adaptive behavior were observed. Posttraumatic symptoms of the displaced children correlated with the mothers' avoidant symptoms. The mothers' avoidant symptoms at follow-up were statistically explained by the mothers' symptoms during the war and their capacity for image control, the duration of displacement, and the cohesion of the family.

CONCLUSIONS:

The maternal stress-buffering capacity constitutes a central element in children's protective matrix and is crucial in minimizing long-term internal suffering of traumatized preschool children.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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