Demographic, maltreatment, and neurobiological correlates of PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents.

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationships of demographic, maltreatment, neurostructural and neuropsychological measures with total posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. METHODS: Participants included 216 children with maltreatment histories (N = 49), maltreatment and PTSD (N = 49), or no maltreatment (N = 118). Participants received diagnostic interviews, brain imaging, and neuropsychological evaluations. RESULTS: We examined a hierarchical regression model comprised of independent variables including demographics, trauma and maltreatment-related variables, and hippocampal volumes and neuropsychological measures to model PTSD symptoms. Important independent contributors to this model were SES, and General Maltreatment and Sexual Abuse Factors. Although hippocampal volumes were not significant, Visual Memory was a significant contributor to this model. CONCLUSIONS: Similar to adult PTSD, pediatric PTSD symptoms are associated with lower Visual Memory performance. It is an important correlate of PTSD beyond established predictors of PTSD symptoms. These results support models of developmental traumatology and suggest that treatments which enhance visual memory may decrease symptoms of PTSD.





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De Bellis, Michael D, Stephen R Hooper, Donald P Woolley and Chad E Shenk (2010). Demographic, maltreatment, and neurobiological correlates of PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents. J Pediatr Psychol, 35(5). pp. 570–577. 10.1093/jpepsy/jsp116 Retrieved from

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Donald Woolley

Higher Education Analyst II

Ph.D.    Sociology, North Carolina State University
M.A.     Sociology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
B.A.      Anthropology, Sociology, and History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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