What does PTSD look like in infants and children?
Animal models have taught us that stressing the mother in pregnancy can alter brain development in the offspring; and that prolonged separation of infant from mother impairs in the newborn other aspects of brain development and function. Furthermore, inconsistent maternal care and maternal anxiety, for example, from food insecurity, produce anxiety in offspring and contribute to the predisposition to diabetes, which itself has adverse effects on the brain.
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School-aged children (ages 5-12)
These children may not have flashbacks or problems remembering parts of the trauma, the way adults with PTSD often do. Children, though, might put the events of the trauma in the wrong order. They might also think there were signs that the trauma was going to happen. As a result, they think that they will see these signs again before another trauma happens. They think that if they pay attention, they can avoid future traumas.
Children of this age might also show signs of PTSD in their play. They might keep repeating a part of the trauma. These games do not make their worry and distress go away. For example, a child might always want to play shooting games after he sees a school shooting. Children may also fit parts of the trauma into their daily lives. For example, a child might carry a gun to school after seeing a school shooting.