(HealthDay News) — Nearly 20 percent of infants and preschoolers with cancer suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published online Aug. 22 in Psycho-Oncology.

Anna Graf, M.D., of University Children’s Hospital Zurich, and colleagues conducted a study involving 48 patients with cancer, aged 8 to 48 months, to assess the prevalence of PTSD and to identify determinants. The patients were assessed in an average of 15 months after diagnosis, with mothers serving as informants and completing questionnaires, including the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Semi-Structured Interview and Observational Record for Infants and Young Children.

The researchers found that 18.8 percent of children met the age-appropriate criteria for full PTSD, and 41.7 percent met the criteria for partial PTSD. Higher child age at diagnosis (odds ratio, 1.11) and maternal PTSD severity (odds ratio, 1.14) correlated with increased risk of full or partial PTSD in children, based on multivariate analysis.

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“Our study provides crucial information on PTSD and its determinants in infants and preschoolers with cancer,” the authors write. “Our findings confirm the need for careful, developmentally sensitive evaluations of PTSD in young pediatric cancer patients and their parents.”

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