Digital Original: Childhood trauma can make kids age faster

Digital Originals

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new study shows children that suffer trauma are aging faster than those that haven’t, and it could have a big impact on their health later in life.

The study released by the American Psychological Association shows that kids who suffer trauma from abuse or violence show biological signs of aging faster in their cells.

“So here in Arkansas we know that about a third of our children have had two or more really bad things happen to them before they become adults,” says Dr. Nicola Edge with UAMS Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

This rapid aging may lead to early onsets of depression, anxiety, and diabetes as the child gets older, the research shows.

However, Dr. Edge says there is help with early intervention as being essential to prevent these traumatic effects from festering into adulthood.

“One of the things we know about kids that are resilient is that research tells us one of the most important factors in helping them overcome these experiences is the presences of a safe stable caring adult in their life who can help them feel safe who can help protect them and who can bring healing.”

The study showed that kids who experienced violence can make the body age more quickly and even change brain structure.

Dr. Edge suggests that parents or caregivers should look out for signs of a child having been affected by something traumatic since they are not always with them. She says that sometimes a child will not always express that something has occurred.

“One of the things you want to watch for is big changes in mood or behavior or skills that children have,” she explains. “If you see aggressive behavior that you haven’t seen before or depressed mood that you haven’t seen before.”

For more information on the study, click here.

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