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Acute stress disorder is common among children and parents following pediatric traffic injury

Philadelphia In 90 percent of families with children injured in a traffic crash, the child or a parent will suffer at least one significant acute stress symptom, according to a study at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. And 25 percent of children and parents experience more pervasive symptoms that warrant clinical attention. Nancy Kassam-Adams, Ph.D. and Flaura K. Winston, M.D., Ph.D., co-authors of the study in the June 2002 issue of Pediatrics, offer guidelines for assessing acute stress symptoms in children and parents.

"The study investigated the range of acute stress symptoms in children and their parents to enable pediatricians to better identify and address the psychological impact of injury," said Dr. Kassam-Adams, associate director of behavioral research, TraumaLink at Children's Hospital. "Evidence about the prevalence of these symptoms in injured children can help physicians distinguish between normal reactions to trauma and reactions that require further care and follow-up."

The study population included 97 children who were admitted to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for traffic related injuries between July 1999 and May 2000. The children had been injured in a traffic crash in which the child was a passenger, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist.

"A key component to assessing acute stress is that pediatricians understand how both parents and children respond to a child's injury," states Dr. Winston, director of TraumaLink. "It is normal for parents to be very distressed in the aftermath of a child's injury, yet parents' own acute stress symptoms may influence a child's response to the traumatic event."

Acute stress disorder is a group of symptoms and reactions that may occur within the first month after a traumatic experience. ASD symptoms include re-experiencing the trauma (unwanted and upsetting thoughts or memories), avoiding reminders of the trauma, hyperarousal (jumpiness), and dissociation (numbing,
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Contact: Suzanne Hill
Hillsu@email.chop.edu
215-590-1417
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
5-Jun-2002


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