Mothers' functioning and children's symptoms 5 years after a SCUD missile attack

N. Laor*, L. Wolmer, D. J. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


Objective: The authors assessed the long-term consequences of the SCUD missile attack in Israel on children as a function of their mothers' psychological functioning, family cohesion, and the event itself. Method: Five years after the Gulf War, the authors assessed the internalizing, externalizing, stress, and posttraumatic symptoms of 81 children aged 8-10 years whose homes were damaged in the SCUD missile attack, as well as general and post-traumatic symptoms, defensive style, and object relations in their mothers. Results: There was a significant decrease in severity in most symptom domains and an increase in avoidant symptoms in the children. Greater severity of symptoms was associated with being displaced, living in a family with inadequate cohesion, and having a mother with poor psychological functioning. The association between the symptoms of children and mothers was stronger among the younger children. Posttraumatic symptoms increased in one-third of the children and decreased in one-third over the last 30 months of the study. Severe posttraumatic symptoms were reported in 8% of the children. Conclusions: Despite a continuous decrease in symptom severity, risk factors identified shortly after the Gulf War continued to exert their influence on children 5 years after the traumatic exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1026
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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