Trauma of Vietnam being passed on

20.06.2007

Vietnam veterans are passing on post traumatic stress disorder to their children and grandchildren.

Queensland University of Technology PhD student Ken O'Brien said not enough research had been done on how the traumas of war were being passed on to children via parenting styles, social factors and even genetics.

Mr O'Brien, who is from the university's School of Social Change Research and is the son of a Vietnam veteran, is studying the phenomenon, which he says is widespread.

He said it was causing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, Asperger's syndrome and depressive and anxiety conditions in children and grandchildren.

"They are the uncounted casualties of Vietnam because theyre the lost legacy, theyve inherited the conditions of this war without having to experience the war itself,' Mr OBrien said.

He said children responded to living in a stressed environment if their parents were coping with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often suffered by Vietnam veterans.

But he said behavioural problems also could be passed on in genes with a stressful event switching on or off a gene, or series of genes, that is then passed onto subsequent generations.

He said almost no research had been done on the phenomenon, which was leading to misdiagnosis and mismanagement of disorders.

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