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Studies highlight impact of Sept. 11, Iraq war on adolescents

Three months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the United States, 10 percent of black adolescents attending an inner-city Southern high school were reporting clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as hypervigilance and recurring, disturbing memories, according to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia.

A related MCG study of the psychological and cardiovascular impact on adolescents of the war in Iraq showed, not surprisingly, that those in military families were most impacted as evidenced by elevated resting blood pressures and heart rates associated with their loved ones' proximity to the war.

Both studies are being presented at the 62nd annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Orlando, Fla., March 3-6.

"One of the purposes of publishing a study like this is to alert pediatricians, school counselors, caregivers, parents and school administrators of potential stress rates related to reactions to terrorist attacks that might occur in the future," says Dr. Vernon A. Barnes, physiologist and lead author on the 9-11 abstract. "That concern did not end, but really just began with 9-11."

The Iraq War study has similar purposes, said Dr. Frank A. Treiber, child psychologist, director of MCG's Georgia Prevention Institute and the abstract's lead author. "One of the concerns I have is that families with loved ones involved in the war on terrorism are undoubtedly experiencing emotional and physical strain. Are we adequately identifying and providing assistance to those who would benefit from help in coping with the strain before it becomes clinically manifest?" says Dr. Treiber, who has submitted a grant for an intervention program for youth with high normal blood pressure to the National Institutes of Health. Such a program might be beneficial to military dependents.

The researchers already were screening high school students for high normal blood pressures to assess the impact of m
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
3-Mar-2004


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