“Traumatic events in children’s lives can have the same effect as head trauma, a new study says.
The study, published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, finds that emotional trauma at a young age may cause changes to the brain that are similar to head trauma.
The connection between emotional trauma’s and physical trauma’s effect on the brain is an increase in a protein called S100B. S100B is a protein usually found in the brain. But when the protein makes its way to the blood, this is a sign that the barrier that separates the brain from the rest of the body is leaky. This enables inflammatory compounds to make their way to the brain and perpetuate inflammation in the brain, often called neuroinflammation.
Dr. Falcone’s research team found that the same thing happens with emotional trauma as with physical trauma: the S100B protein levels are higher than normal. What’s more, the worse the trauma, the higher the levels of the S100B protein.
The researchers identified three important stressors that impact the intensity of the emotional trauma: how early in childhood the trauma occurred (if the trauma happen before age 8), the level of the trauma’s severity and whether the emotional trauma lasted longer than six months.
Although her team’s study results suggest a childhood trauma could cause inflammation in the brain that’s similar to what is seen in concussion, this inflammation could linger. This could lead to long-term consequences such as the development of psychiatric disorders later.”
By Children Health Team at Cleveland Clinic
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