Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Almost one in five young children with cancer suffers from a trauma disorder

Date:
September 6, 2012
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
The diagnosis and treatment of cancer does not only trigger posttraumatic stress disorder in adults and older children; infants and toddlers with cancer also suffer from trauma disorders, as researchers show in a new study. This discovery should be taken into account while treating children to prevent them from developing long-term psychological disorders.

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer does not only trigger posttraumatic stress disorder in adults and older children; infants and toddlers with cancer also suffer from trauma disorders, as researchers from the University of Zurich and the University Children's Hospital Zurich show for the first time. This discovery should be taken into account while treating children to prevent them from developing long-term psychological disorders.

Related Articles


People who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder relive their traumatic experiences in the form of flashbacks and nightmares -- and in childhood, also in traumatic plays during which they re-enact the experience over and over again. They avoid stimuli that remind them of the trauma or suffer from vegetative hyperarousal such as insomnia, hypervigilance or concentration problems. For the first time, researchers from the University of Zurich and the University Children's Hospital Zurich now show that infants and toddlers can also develop posttraumatic stress disorder in the wake of a cancer diagnosis and the subsequent, often very stressful treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.

Toddlers more at risk than babies

Within the scope of the study, under the supervision of Professor Markus Landolt and with the support of pediatric oncologist Eva Bergsträsser, doctoral student Anna Graf interviewed a total of 48 mothers whose children had been diagnosed with cancer. Nine (18.8 percent) of the babies and young children examined exhibited the complete clinical picture of preschool posttraumatic stress disorder. In another 20 children (41.7 percent), they detected at least some symptoms of a stress disorder, the most common being flashbacks and anxiety. Children over 18 months were considerably more at risk of developing a disorder than younger children. Likewise, posttraumatic stress disorder in the mother increased the probability of a disorder in the child. Interestingly, there was no correlation between the development of posttraumatic stress disorder and the disease characteristics studied.

Child-friendly treatment

"The results of our study show that cancer and its treatment can also have a traumatic impact in babyhood and infancy," explains Professor Landolt. The children affected can develop more prolonged disorders that impair their development. In order to avoid this, various implications for treating young children with cancer emerge: "More care should be taken to ensure that potentially stressful procedures, such as bone marrow aspiration, are carried out as child-friendly and painlessly as possible," recommends Professor Landolt. Moreover, any measures that improve the child's sense of security in hospital and during the medical treatment and thus reduce their anxiety should be encouraged. There is therefore an urgent need for personnel that have been trained specifically for childhood ages and an infrastructure that is suitable for children. Last but not least, the parents should also be given as much psychological support as possible since they are the child's most important reference people and resources during illness.

48 children aged between eight and 48 months

Studying posttraumatic stress disorder in very young children poses a major challenge as the symptoms manifest themselves differently at this age compared to adults or older children. Under the supervision of Professor Markus Landolt and with the support of pediatric oncologist Eva Bergsträsser, doctoral student Anna Graf interviewed a total of 48 mothers whose children had been diagnosed with cancer. At the time of the study, the children were between eight and 48 months old. On average, 15 months had elapsed since the diagnosis.

The most common medical diagnoses were solid tumors, leukemia, lymphomas and brain tumors. 85 percent of the children had received chemotherapy, 56 percent had been operated on, just under 17 percent had been treated with radiotherapy and 12.5 percent had received a bone marrow transplantation. 21 children (about 44 percent) were still undergoing medical treatment at the time of the study.

Oncosuisse and the Claus Cramer Stiftung supported the study financially.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anna Graf, Eva Bergstraesser, Markus A. Landolt. Posttraumatic stress in infants and preschoolers with cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/pon.3164

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Almost one in five young children with cancer suffers from a trauma disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906073926.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2012, September 6). Almost one in five young children with cancer suffers from a trauma disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906073926.htm
University of Zurich. "Almost one in five young children with cancer suffers from a trauma disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906073926.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) — Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins