Investigation of posttraumatic stress disorder in children after animal-induced injury in China

Pediatrics. 2010 Aug;126(2):e320-4. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3530. Epub 2010 Jul 12.


Objective: Dogs are important members of many families in many countries. However, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children after animal attacks has always been underestimated, and a more-detailed study of PTSD in children after animal attacks is needed.

Methods: The charts and follow-up data for 358 children after animal-induced injuries were reviewed. Family Apgar Scale assessment and PTSD screening were performed at emergency department admission. On week 1 after the emergency department admission, the patient underwent evaluation for acute stress disorder (ASD) diagnosis, by using the Child Acute Stress Questionnaire. PTSD screening and interim history-taking were performed 3 months after the emergency department admission, by telephone or in face-to-face interviews, by using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents. P values of <.05 were considered significant.

Results: A total of 19 patients developed PTSD, including 10 patients with severe injuries, 8 patients with moderate injuries, and 1 patient with a mild injury (chi(2)=48.104; P=.000). No significant differences in PTSD occurrence according to gender and age were observed. Family Apgar Scale scores were not significantly related to PTSD (P=.781). ASD and PTSD symptom severity scores were significantly associated (r=0.51; P < .005).

Conclusions: Child victims of severe animal attacks should be considered at risk for the development of PTSD, family support was not correlated with posttraumatic stress symptoms in school-aged children after animal attacks, and ASD seems to be an early predictive indicator of PTSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires