(HealthDay News) – An early screening tool can be used to identify posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in infants and young children shortly after unintentional injury, according to a study published online Sept. 23 in Pediatrics.

Didier N. Kramer, from the University Children’s Hospital Zurich in Switzerland, and colleagues examined the effectiveness and selection of predictors of an early screening tool for PTSD in a sample of 87 2- to 6-year olds, 6–14 days after unintentional injury. The screener consisted of an adapted version of the Pediatric Emotional Distress Scale (PEDS), the PEDS-Early Screener (PEDS-ES), and questions on five additional risk factors. Six months after the accident, the PTSD semi-structured interview and observational record for infants and young children served as a criterion measure. Cases meeting the criteria for full or partial PTSD were considered positive.

The researchers found the best performing screening tool to be the PEDS-ES, without the additional risk factors. This had 85% sensitivity and 63% specificity for full or partial PTSD.

“The PEDS-ES allows for successful early screening of preschool-aged children after single accidental trauma,” the authors write. “It may be used within a stepped-care model for early identification of individuals designated for possible secondary preventative interventions.”

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