Friday, June 15, 2018

Childhood brain trauma lasts a lifetime

From Healing the Brain, by David Balog

How trauma affects the developing brain.

Traumatized Children and Youth in Romania--A Tragedy of Epic Proportions
Beginning in the 1960s, the country of Romania's harsh economic policies meant that most families were too poor to support multiple children. So, without other options, thousands of parents left their babies in government-run orphanages.

By Christmas day 1989, when revolutionaries overthrew the government, an estimated 170,000 children were living in more than 700 state orphanages. As the regime crumbled, journalists and humanitarians swept in. In most institutions, children were getting adequate food, hygiene and medical care, but had woefully few interactions with adults, leading to severe behavioral and emotional problems.

Unlike growing up in a family, the children didn't have lots of interactions with adults holding them, talking to them, singing or playing with them, and that lack of stimulation affected their brain development.

An American scientist who went to study the crisis, recalls "a boy in a red T-shirt and sweats skipped up to me, grabbed my hand, and wouldn’t let go. His head didn’t reach my shoulders, so I figured he was eight or nine years old. He was 13, my guide said. The boy kept looking up at me with an open, sweet face, but I found it difficult to return his gaze.

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