(HealthDay News) – Mothers with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to events such as serious accidents, assaults, war, or natural disasters are more likely to mistreat their children, even more than mothers with depression, according to a study published online Sept. 2 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Claude M. Chemtob, PhD, from New York University in New York City, and colleagues examined the association between maternal PTSD and depression with child maltreatment and exposure to traumatic events in 97 mothers of children 3–5 years old.

The researchers found that children of mothers with PTSD experienced more traumatic events (mean, 5) compared with both PTSD and depression (3.5), depression (1.2), or neither disorder (1.4). More severe PTSD increased psychological aggression and the number of traumatic events children experienced. Depression severity predicted physical assault and neglect, but predicted psychological aggression and exposure to traumatic events only when PTSD was of low severity.

“Posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with an increased risk for child maltreatment beyond that associated with depression,” Chemtob and colleagues conclude.

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