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No Proven Treatment For Childhood Traumatic Stress

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What is the best way to address a child's traumatic stress? 

The question is no idle academic chin-stroking: two-thirds of all children will experience some kind of traumatic event before their eighteenth birthday, according to some esitmates. Whether it comes as a natural or man-made disaster – accident, war, or school shooting – some traumatizing event will have an impact on more than half of our kids. 

While that is in itself surprising news, a new study suggests there is no best course of treatment for our youngest survivors of trauma. 

Plus: After Newtown: How Does A Child Cope With Tragedy

The study, sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, examined existing research on traumatic stress disorders in children – as well as psychological and pharmacological therapies. The authors conclude that only a few psychological treatments were shown to help children -- and even then, only in the short term. No medications were shown to have benefit.

"The body of evidence provides little insight into how interventions to treat children exposed to trauma might influence healthy long-term development," researchers write. The study, “Comparative Effectiveness of Interventions for Children Exposed to Nonrelational Traumatic Events," was published online Monday.  

These findings, researchers conclude, serve as a "call to action," demanding "far more research on the comparative effectiveness of interventions" for child survivors of trauma. Sadly, it's research that could clearly come in quite handy. 

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