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By Elizabeth Landau, CNN 12/9/09 (CNN) -- Psychological trauma may
leave a visible trace in a child's brain, scientists say. A new study
published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that children
with symptoms of post-traumatic stress had poor function of the
hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores and retrieves memories.
This is the first study to use functional magnetic resonance imaging,
or fMRI, to look at the function of the hippocampus in youth with
symptoms of post-traumatic stress, researchers said. The findings are
in line with what has been previously found in adults. The study was
led by Dr. Victor Carrion, and the senior author was Dr. Allan Reiss,
both at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at
Stanford University School of Medicine. Post-traumatic stress disorder
is a condition that children and adults develop in response to a
traumatic event. Intrusive memories, increased anxiety and emotional
arousal are some of the symptoms, and typically they begin within
three months of a traumatic event, according to the Mayo Clinic.Of
youths who have experienced a traumatic event, 3 percent to 15 percent
of girls and 1 percent to 6 percent of boys could get a PTSD
diagnosis, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. By
contrast, an estimated 6.8 percent of the adult American population
has had PTSD at some point, the department said.