Children from military families have a higher risk of social, emotional and behavioral problems, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Published May 27, Memorial Day, in the academy's journal Pediatrics, the new clinical report aims to raise awareness among pediatricians for the mental health needs for military children. One in 4 kids will show signs of depression, one in three will have excessive worrying and about half will have trouble sleeping.
During the last 10 years, about 2 million children have been separated from a parent on active duty. Written by Dr. Ben S. Siegel and Dr. Beth Ellen Davis, who serve as members on the Committee On Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health and Section on Uniformed Services, the report points out about 60 percent of U.S. service members have families while about 2.3 million military members have been deployed since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq about a decade ago.
The mental health effects on children from military families appear to span all ages. Children and adolescents between ages 5 and 17 were at a higher risk for emotional and behavioral problems, with emotional issues being linked to longer parental deployments, the report showed. Preschool-aged kids meanwhile showed high levels of emotional reactivity, anxiety and withdrawal compared to kids of parents who have not been deployed.
"By understanding the military family and the stressful experiences of parental wartime deployment, all pediatricians -- both active duty and civilian -- and other health care providers can be the front line in caring for U.S. military children and their families," report co-author Dr. Benjamin Siegel said in the statement.
"In the past 10 years, more than 2 million children in the U.S. have experienced the emotional and stressful event of being separated from a loved one deployed for active duty," report co-author Dr. Beth Ellen Davis said in the release.
"Most children cope and adapt quite well, but all children experience a heightened sense of fear and worry during a parent's deployment. It's important for pediatricians caring for these families to be aware of their family's situation so they can guide them appropriately."
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