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Traumatic Stress Induces Brain Change in Children

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - MedPage Today Action Points

o Explain to interested patients that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a response to extreme stress that causes a range of long-lasting symptoms.

o Point out that in adults PTSD has been associated with changes in the hippocampus, and in animals it has been shown that the stress hormone cortisol is neurotoxic to hippocampal cells.

o Explain that this study suggests that PTSD is also associated with changes in the brains of children, although it is too early to say if there is a functional effect on memory and emotion.

STANFORD, Calif., March 5 -- Children with post-traumatic stress disorder, similar to adults, show physical changes in the brain, according to researchers here.

In a pilot study of 15 children, higher PTSD scores and higher cortisol levels were significantly (P<0.05) correlated with relative decreases over time in the volume of the right hippocampus, reported Victor Carrion, M.D., of Stanford, and colleagues, reported in the March issue of Pediatrics.

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