Schoolers are more likely than peers to say social difficulties start in childhood and goes on into adulthood

Children are more likely to report having a disability mental illness drug abuse and another mental health problem they are more likely to have such as addiction drug dependence or suicide attempts than peers according to a new study from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Tufts University.

The results were recently published in JAMA Pediatrics.

When we began this study we expected some lamentation among the children and teens who have been unable to take care of themselves said study lead author Dr. Katherine Hodel of Boston Medical Center (BMC) and the SEOM Center at Tufts University.

We didnt anticipate there to be so much confusion among these children.

Hodel and senior author Dr. Joanna Cowles of Boston University School of Public Health started the study with the intention to pinpoint childrens experiences of these unique problems.

To better understand the extent to which a child reports having a disability mental illness drug abuse and another mental health problem the researchers analyzed data from 122826 children who participated in the 2015 National Survey of Childrens Health.

The survey was administered at each childs school after the child turned 18 and was collected through 2016. The researchers evaluated responses from 90 children five- six- seven- and eight-year-olds (aged 2 to 19 years) all of whom were surveyed as part of this study in healthy moderately and severely dependent and self-reported ways.

They found that the percentage of children reporting having been emotionally mentally or physically abused as well as drug abuse were significantly higher than for all other 1-year-olds.

Dr. Hodel also found larger disparities in mental and physical health between the relatively more disadvantaged and those who are of very high socioeconomic status the lowest income as well as between children who are of very high and relatively low socioeconomic status.

There was a little bit of a gap in predictions between the smaller and the large groups she said. But that was not surprising given the findings. Our findings suggest that children from a lower socioeconomic status report higher levels of reported physical and mental difficulties.

For example young adults who are low income and end up in the lowest income quartile reported having people who are friends or peers affected in the same fashion.

Our results suggest that the fact that children from a lower socioeconomic status report higher mental health problems is related to disparities in social cognitive and self-stressed factors she said.

The authors seem to anticipate some bias in their study since some 7000 children who were participating in the survey were asked at the beginning of the study whether they had experienced any adverse events during the previous year or in the previous six months. Only a few of these questions were answered in the same way as in the earlier cohorts.

Childhood traumas resulting from bullying and trauma are more likely to be experienced by young adults with mental disorders such as depression anxiety and post-traumatic symptoms (a form of PTSD). People who have experienced suicide or substance abuse were more than twice as likely to report being emotionally or physically abused by peers at a younger age.

Whats more gender was not linked to the likelihood of having an emotionally or physically abusive mother or abusive boyfriend though as it was to the other extreme.

We know the link between chronic stress and human health problems but gaps remain in understanding how chronic stress might account for differences in learning Cowles said. We currently need to understand what drives child abuse.