A study found that many of the children who were evacuated during the World War II from Finland to Sweden passed down mental illness to their offspring after the ordeal. Researchers found trauma is more easily “transmitted” from mother to daughter.
During WWII, around 50,000 children had to leave their homes and parents in Finland for temporary shelter in Sweden. The event impacted most of the children psychological on a deep level, and those who had children unconsciously passed down their trauma to the next generation.
The Finnish children that had to leave their country had higher rates of hospitalizations because of mental illness than children that remained. The daughters of the displaced children had also higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization than the descendants of the children that stayed in the country.
The analysis appeared Nov. 29 in JAMA Psychiatry.
Parental Childhood Trauma Can Result in Mental Illness in Kids
Lead author Stephen Gilman, who works for the National Institutes of Health, had the idea to conduct the study after a short collaboration with two Swedish researchers who were analyzing Finland’s records of war children that were evacuated during the Great War at the time.
In 2015, the Swedish team and Gilman found that evacuated kids had higher rates of mental illness than their peers that remained in the country. The public records contained precious information on siblings and even cousins’ mental health history. This means that the recently found link between trauma in parents and mental illness in their kids is not random.
Evacuated children were traumatized because the parental attachment was affected in their early years which can prove harmful to their emotional and cognitive development. Past studies have shown that separation from parents in early years is associated with mental distress and even changes in the brains of children.
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