Biologic findings of post-traumatic stress disorder and child maltreatment

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2003 Jun;5(2):108-17. doi: 10.1007/s11920-003-0027-z.


Child maltreatment is a serious problem in US society, affecting approximately three million children. Children and adolescents exposed to child abuse and neglect experience high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, they are at risk for comorbid mental illness. Biologic stress systems affected in trauma and in PTSD are complex. Findings in cognitive testing, neuroimaging, and affected pathways shed light on the consequences of child maltreatment. What is known about treatment and outcomes for children with history of maltreatment and maltreatment-related PTSD indicates the need for prevention, intervention, and treatment of children exposed to abuse and neglect. The following is a brief review of the most recent neurobiologic findings in child maltreatment and related PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / metabolism*
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / etiology
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism*
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / metabolism*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data


  • Aspartic Acid
  • Serotonin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Hydrocortisone