HealthDay News — All pediatric healthcare providers can play a role in supporting children who are exposed to parental military deployment, according the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
About two million U.S. children were exposed to at least one wartime deployment in the past 10 years and nonmilitary pediatricians care for more than 50% of these children before, during, and after deployment, Benjamin S. Siegel, MD, from the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health and Section on Uniformed Services, and colleagues reported in Pediatrics.
Children of all ages are affected by wartime deployment, the committee noted. Therefore all pediatric clinicians should be prepared to address parental wartime deployment issues, including service-specific characteristics of the deployed service member, stage of deployment and prior deployment experience.
During times of family change, pediatric healthcare providers have a role to play in assessing the level of family and child stress and utilizing the principles of anticipatory guidance, psychoeducation, and continued surveillance and screening over time.
Pediatric healthcare providers should plan to speak confidentially to adolescents regarding their fears and worries. In addition, child abuse screening and mental health screening of child caregivers are important elements of the clinical encounter, as is understanding age-appropriate reactions to deployment.
“By understanding the military family and the experiences of parental wartime deployments, all pediatricians and other health care providers serving children can be the ‘front line’ for the health and well-being of U.S. military children and their family members, especially in time of war,” the researchers wrote.