4. Discuss potential effects of deprivation or trauma in childhood on later development


Healthy development is influenced by factors such as access to loving caregivers, adequate nutrition, sensory and cognitive stimulation, and linguistic input.


A child reared in a severely deprived setting will not experience such factors and this can affect the child’s development negatively.






First let's look at Trauma


Potential effect of trauma: PTSD


Children who have experienced severe and repeated trauma may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which could interfere with normal development. If left untreated children may exhibit impulsivity, agitation, hyper-vigilance, avoidance behavior, and emotional numbness.


Carion et al. (2009) performed fMRI scans and found that children suffering from PTSD after experiencing extreme stressors such as abuse or witnessing violence performed worse on a simple verbal memory test and showed less hippocampal activity compared to a control group. The participants who performed worst on the test were those who also showed specific PTSD symptoms such as withdrawal from those who wanted to help them. They also had difficulties remembering the trauma, felt cut off from others, and showed lack of emotion.


Yehuda et al. (2001) studied the mental health of 51 children of Holocaust survivors who were raised by traumatized parents and made comparisons to a control group. The mean age of the sample was 40.9 years. The results showed that children of Holocaust survivors were more likely to develop PTSD (33.3 % compared to 12.2% in the control group). Childhood trauma was associated with parental PTSD and the results indicate that PTSD can be transmitted from parent to child.


Now let's look at Deprivation


Potential effects of deprivation: cognitive impairment and attachment disorder


The English and Romanian adoptees study


This is a longitudinal study of 324 Romanian adoptees that entered the UK between February 1990 and September 1992. The aim was to investigate potential long-term effects of severe deprivation in childhood. All the children had been reared from infancy in very deprived institutions in Romania and adopted into UK families at various ages up to 42 months.


Rutter et al. (2004) investigated a sample of 144 children who were, at that time, six years of age. The parents were interviewed at home and answered questionnaires on the family and the child’s behavior. Three months later the child was assessed using observations and standard cognitive and developmental measures including tests on general cognitive functioning and attachment behavior. The focus was on cognitive impairment and attachment disturbance in children who had spent more than six months in the institutions. The study found no major deficits in children who had spent less than six months there.


Cognitive impairment







Attachment disorder






  1. lack of preference for contact with caregivers versus relative strangers (i.e. lack of differentiation among adults)


  1. definite lack of checking back with the parent in anxiety provoking situations.