Children who've suffered trauma more likely to develop gastrointestinal problems

Tuesday 02nd April 2019 16:48 EDT

Children suffering from trauma or adversity in their early life are more prone to complain of gastrointestinal issues later, reveals a latest study.  These gastrointestinal complaints may also affect their brain and behaviour, said the study published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.

"One common reason children show up at doctors' offices is intestinal complaints. Our findings indicate that gastrointestinal symptoms in young children could be a red flag to primary care physicians for future emotional health problems," said Nim Tottenham, senior author of the study.

This is not the first time someone has pointed at links between trauma and tummy problems. Previous studies have also shown that past trauma has affected many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disorder that affects your colon and results in difficulty in passing stool. Poor diet is said to be the major cause behind IBS.

 "The role of trauma in increasing vulnerability to both gastrointestinal and mental health symptoms is well established in adults but rarely studied in childhood," said study lead author Bridget Callaghan.

"Our study is among the first to link disruption of a child's gastrointestinal microbiome triggered by early-life adversity with brain activity in regions associated with emotional health." 

For the study the researchers focussed on children who suffered extreme psychological pain or deprivation. 115 children who were adopted from orphanages or foster care on or before they were two years old and 229 children raised by a biological caregiver, were analysed as part of the study. 

Scientists studied the data which had their behavioral information, stool sample and brain images from all the children. The findings revealed that the children exhibited distinct gut microbiomes who had early care giving disruptions from those raised by their biological parents.

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