Journal of the Arab American University مجلة الجامعة العربية الامريكية للبحوث

Journal of the Arab American University  مجلة الجامعة العربية الامريكية للبحوث


Background: A growing body of work suggests that exposure of children to the trauma of war threatens their physical and psychological development. Children exposed to such childhood adversity have an increased risk of developing mental health problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), emotional and behavioral problems, and psychobiological ailments. Methods: This pilot study used a descriptive cross-sectional design to explore the relationships among traumatic event exposure, child stress, and biological stress markers (salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase) measured in a sample of 37 West Bank Palestinian children aged 10-12 years. Results: Findings revealed moderate correlations between perceived child stress scores and higher levels of traumatic exposure, higher awakening cortisol level, and greater variation in diurnal cortisol levels. Further, 32% of the sample demonstrated a reversed sAA diurnal pattern. Conclusion: In our study sample, children who reported higher exposure to violent traumatic events appeared to have higher perceived stress, and possibly were experiencing disruption in their normal physiologic stress response. With identification of more valid and reliable screening instruments, it may be possible to provide earlier identification of at-risk children, and direct interventions to help mitigate the impact of exposure to traumatic war events in this vulnerable population.