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January 2018

War-Related Traumas and Mental Health Across Generations

Author Affiliations
  • 1Research Program on Children and Adversity, Boston College School of Social Work, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • 2Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(1):5-6. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3530

This issue of JAMA Psychiatry presents the findings from an epidemiological study from Santavirta et al1 on the risk of psychiatric hospitalization among the offspring of adults who were evacuated as child refugees to Sweden during World War II under the Finnish Evacuation Policy. The study provides a glimpse into the potential intergenerational associations of being a child refugee during World War II with psychiatric hospitalization, with particular attention to sex. The study found that women of mothers who were evacuated to Sweden during childhood had an elevated risk for psychiatric hospitalization. They were more than 2 times more likely to be hospitalized for any type of psychiatric disorder and nearly 5 times more likely to be hospitalized for a mood disorder.