More mental and behavioral problems among children of military deployed parents

More mental and behavioral problems among children of military deployed parents

When a military parent is deployed, health visits by their children for mental and behavioral problems were found to rise by 11%, while visits for stress disorders rose 18%, researchers report in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics. The authors add that such health visit rates increase more notably among older offspring and those of married and male military parents.

Gregory H. Gorman, MD, MHS, from the Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland and colleagues set out to find out what impact military deployment by a parent might have on outpatient visit rates for mental and behavioral problems among children between 3 and 8 years of age.

The investigators gathered data on 642,397 children of 442,722 active-duty parents during 2006 and 2007 and attempted to link health visits to parental deployment. They used the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision codes to identify mental and behavioral health visits. 50.6% of the children were male and 68% were Caucasian. 90.5% of the parents were married and 90% were male.

During the period of study 32.% of the parents were deployed.

The researchers found that young kids have a 11% higher chance of going on a health visit (seeing a doctor) for a mental or behavioral problem when a parent is deployed, compared to children whose parents are at home. Visits for physical problems actually dropped by 11% when a parent was deployed, the scientists added.

The most common mental complaints for a visit by the child of a deployed parent were stress, anxiety, and attention-deficit. Mothers were found to be much more likely to take their kid to the doctor for a mental or behavioral issue than fathers.

The authors also found that older children in two-parent families had the highest rates when a parent was deployed. The authors suggest that children in one parent families usually end up with a caregiver who may be less sensitive to behavioral and/or mental changes in the child, and as such are much less likely to take them to see a doctor about it.

Previous studies have shown that military marriages tend to be more stable and longer lasting that the overall US national average (including all Americans, military and non-military).

The authors wrote in conclusion:

Mental and behavioral health visits increased by 11% in these children when a military parent deployed; behavioral disorders increased 19% and stress disorders increased 18%. Rates especially increased in older children and children of married and male military parents.

"Wartime Military Deployment and Increased Pediatric Mental and Behavioral Health Complaints"

Gregory H. Gorman, MD, MHS, Matilda Eide, MPH, Elizabeth Hisle-Gorman, MSW, PhD

PEDIATRICS, published online November 8 (doi:10.1542/peds.2009-2856)

Kids of deployed military parents at increased risk (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice