Soldiers' Children Often Face Long Term Psychological Issues, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

children of soldiers

Ongoing wars taken a psychological toll on children. Credit: Majid Saeedi, Getty Images

They used to call it "battle fatigue" -- the psychological toll taken on soldiers in war.

However, soldiers are not the only casualties. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, Reuters news service reports on the grim psychological price paid by the soldiers' children.

Researchers analyzed medical records of 307,520 children of soldiers on active duty and found 17 percent of them had mental health problems. The study is published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

"Children of parents who spent more time deployed between 2003 and 2006 fared worse than children whose parents were deployed for a shorter duration," researchers wrote.

Lead researcher Alyssa Mansfield, who was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when the study was conducted, tells Reuters children with parents deployed at least once, for an average of 11 months, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan are especially vulnerable.

They are likely to suffer from adjustment, behavioral, depressive or stress disorders. Mansfield adds boys are more likely to have mental health problems than girls.

"We used to think about deployment as a single experience: I go, I'm away, it's difficult and then I come back. Well, it's a way of life in the military that deployments continue to occur and families have to manage the consequences," Stephen Cozza, a psychiatry professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, tells Reuters.

"These are consequences that aren't necessarily short-term," he adds.

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