Chronic Early Trauma and its Long-Term Effects
We examine how exposure to chronic early trauma increases psychopathology, augments stress, and impacts brain functioning across, by following children exposed to war-related trauma. We follow children living in Sderot, a small Israeli town located 10KM from the Gaza border and exposed to repeated missile attacks from infancy to late adolescence. We are specifically interested in the allostatic effects of stress on immunity and the protective role of the affiliation system on resilience.
Trauma exposure increases prevalence of child disorders – across childhood and adolescence, trauma exposure markedly increases child propensity for psychopathology and often children display more than one disorder. Psychopathology typically increases with age.
Effects of trauma on child outcomes are sensitive to biological and genetic dispositions- trauma effects are shaped by temperamental reactivity and individual variability on key genes implicated in affiliation and the stress response.
Trauma exposure interferes with the development of hormonal and immune systems –including functioning of the child’s oxytocin system, salivary and hair cortisol, salivary alpha amylase, and immune biomarkers. When the parallel maternal system and parenting behavior is more functional, disruptions to the child’s endocrine systems is reduced.
Trauma exposure longitudinally impacts children’s brain –trauma impacts the child’s default mode network and neural systems that underpin empathy and attachment