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Study finds American Indian adults exposed to early life trauma more likely to develop PTSD and poor health


American Indian adults who were exposed to an early life trauma are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and poor physical health in adulthood according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Human Biology. The study was conducted by researchers at: Dartmouth College; Washington State University, Spokane; and the University of Colorado Anschutz. (A pdf of the study is available upon request).

The study is the first of its kind to examine the relationship between early life trauma, PTSD and adult physical health in American Indians, illustrating the integral role that early life and environmental experiences have on one's health. The findings are especially important given that some groups of American Indians and Alaska Natives have a prevalence of PTSD that is twice as high as the general population.

"It is important for people to understand that exposure to traumatic early life experiences, often as a result of structural inequalities in society, can have substantial impacts on both mental and physical health in later life. Differences in early life trauma exposure could therefore contribute to many of the health inequities we observe among American Indians and other minority groups," says lead author Zaneta M. Thayer, assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College.


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