Posttraumatic stress disorder among preschoolers exposed to ongoing missile attacks in the Gaza war

Vered Kaufman-Shriqui, Nomi Werbeloff, Michal Faroy, Gal Meiri, Danit R. Shahar, Drora Fraser, Yelena Novack, Natalya Bilenko, Hillel Vardi, Naama Elhadad, Robert H. Pietrzak, Ilan Harpaz-Rotem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background The prevalence and manifestation of posttraumatic stress symptoms in young children may differ from that observed in adults. This study examined sociodemographic, familial, and psychosomatic correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among preschool children and their mothers who had been exposed to ongoing missile attacks in the Gaza war. Methods One hundred and sixty-seven mothers of preschoolers (aged 4.0-6.5 years) were interviewed regarding PTSD and psychosomatic symptomatology of their children, as well as their own reactions to trauma. Results Fourteen mothers (8.4%) and 35 children (21.0%) screened positive for PTSD. Sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with PTSD among mothers or children. Among children, the only significant risk factor was having a mother with PTSD (OR = 12.22, 95% CI 2.75-54.28). Compared to children who did not screen positive for PTSD, those who did screen positive displayed significantly higher rates of psychosomatic reactions to trauma, most notably constipation or diarrhea (OR = 4.36, 95% CI 1.64-11.60) and headaches (OR = 2.91, 95% CI 1.07-7.94). Conclusions Results of this study add to the burgeoning literature on child PTSD, emphasizing the important role of maternal anxiety and the psychosomatic reactions associated with exposure to ongoing traumatic experiences in young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-431
Number of pages7
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • psychosomatic
  • somatization
  • trauma


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