Children’s health advocates have long stressed the toll that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can take on a child’s psychological development. After witnessing or experiencing some form of violence, children often exhibit common PTSD symptoms including insomnia, bed-wetting, and flashbacks. New research is now indicating that the symptoms of PTSD can bleed over into the physical realm, as well. A University of Michigan study finds that children exposed to some form of violence ‘in school, at home or in their communities’ are much more likely than their peers to suffer from a host of gastrointestinal problems, complain of frequent headaches, and exhibit a weaker immune response to common childhood afflictions. The implications of the study are particularly troubling for children from low-income families, a startling three-quarters of whom report witnessing or experiencing some form of violence. Researchers drew a link between the new study and previous research showing that anxiety can lead to worsened physical health.

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