Complex trauma exposure and symptoms in urban traumatized children: a preliminary test of proposed criteria for developmental trauma disorder

J Trauma Stress. 2013 Aug;26(4):483-91. doi: 10.1002/jts.21826. Epub 2013 Jul 25.


Recently, a new diagnostic construct, developmental trauma disorder (DTD), was proposed to describe the effects of chronic exposure to violence in combination with disruptions in caregiving systems. This study uses archival data to field test the consensus proposed diagnostic criteria for DTD in a sample of urban children (N = 214). Children with complex trauma histories as defined in the proposed DTD Criterion A were much more likely to meet the proposed DTD symptom criteria than children who did not meet the exposure criterion. This field trial of the proposed DTD criteria suggests that the proposed construct of DTD is useful for describing the symptoms induced by ongoing traumatic stressors and disrupted caregiving and that the proposed symptom criteria can differentiate children with histories of exposure to developmental trauma from other trauma-exposed children.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population*
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*