chapter  6
28 Pages

Transgenerational Consequences of PTSD: Risk Factors for the Mental Health of Children Whose Mothers Have Been Exposed to the Rwandan Genocide

An association between parental exposure to traumatic stress and children’s psychological mental health has been suggested by studies that examined families of veterans. Children of fathers suffering from PTSD showed significantly greater internalized and externalized behavioural problems [1,2], somatic complaints [3] and higher scores of depression [3,4] and anxiety [5] compared to children of veterans who did not present with a mental disorder. An increased level of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as posttraumatic stress were also confirmed in offspring of tortured refugee parents suffering from PTSD compared to children with non-traumatized parents [6,7]. Although chil-

dren whose mothers and fathers both had PTSD show significantly higher scores of psychopathology such as anxiety and depression, the mother’s anxiety was identified as the most frequent and important predictor of children’s mental health status [4].