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Gupta: Kids develop toxic stress without parents

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the separation of children from their parents can have lasting health effects on kids, such as increased risk of heart disease, drug use and alcohol abuse.

Posted: Jun 21, 2018 11:08 PM
Updated: Jun 21, 2018 11:10 PM

Dr. Tara Neubrand often treats children with a history of trauma.

As a pediatric emergency medicine physician, she has seen young children recovering from life-threatening injuries and histories of abuse.

Yet in the past several weeks, when three toddlers were brought to Neubrand on separate occasions for medical care, they each were unlike any case she had ever seen, she said.

The children, ages 1 and 2, recently had been separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border and were placed in the care of foster families.

Neubrand treated the children at a hospital where she works in Colorado, hundreds of miles from the border.

"All the foster families told me the kids had been with them two weeks or less, and the reasons they brought them in were all pretty mild illnesses," such as rashes or upper respiratory infections, Neubrand said Wednesday.

However, "if their behavior hadn't been so abnormal and I hadn't started asking questions about their background, I may not have known anything about their back story," she said of the children.

"They were the opposite of stable. Emotionally stable kids don't act the way these kids were acting," she said.

Foster mom: 'I'm just trying to not ruin his life'

The three toddlers -- two from Guatemala and one from Honduras -- left such a lasting impression on Neubrand that she wrote about them in a Facebook post on Monday, which garnered more than 5,000 reactions and more than 6,500 shares.

She wrote about how the children clung to their foster parents and did not try to explore the world around them, as many wide-eyed toddlers tend to do. The children also never spoke to or communicated with Neubrand, a fluent Spanish speaker. That's not unusual, she said. What was disconcerting was their physical behavior.

They "could not be put down by their foster parents at all. Not just in the ER but also at home," she said. "They were clearly trying to find literally anyone to hold on to."

One child, a little girl, would latch her tiny fingers onto her foster mother so tightly that it was difficult for the woman to put the child down, even for a bath, Neubrand said.

"She was asking if I had any suggestions about better ways to bathe her. She was sponge-bathing her. She was doing the best she could do. It was just so heartbreaking that was going on," Neubrand said.

Another child, a little boy, constantly cried out for his father, Neubrand said.

"One of the moms told me that the little one, all day long, would just yell 'Papi, Papi, Papi.' She would try to tell him 'It's OK, it's OK, it's OK.' He just kept calling out," Neubrand said.

"She just kept saying to me, 'I'm just trying to not ruin his life. I'm just trying to not ruin his life.' She was clearly doing her best, but this kid wanted his dad."

None of the three foster families spoke any Spanish, and they were unable to communicate with the toddlers, Neubrand said.

'From a medical standpoint, it was not safe'

Other than where the children were from and knowing that the parents were in custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Neubrand and the foster parents were not given much information about the children, and they had no medical history information.

"From a medical standpoint, it was not safe," Neubrand said.

On Wednesday, the American Medical Association sent a public letter to the Trump administration, urging the federal government to withdraw its "zero tolerance" policy on separating migrating families from their parents and caregivers.

"The Administration's 'zero tolerance' policy was a topic recently discussed at the AMA's Annual Meeting, which includes delegates representing over 170 state and national specialty medical societies," Dr. James Madara, CEO and executive vice president of the association, wrote.

"During this meeting we heard from delegates that the Administration's policy will do great harm to children and their parents or caregivers, who felt compelled to make a dangerous and uncertain journey because of safety concerns in their own countries," he wrote.

On Thursday, US Customs and Border Protection announced a new practice aimed at keeping apprehended families together after President Donald Trump's executive order, which the White House said would keep families together who cross into the US illegally.

The new practice, however, does not address what happens to children who were separated from their parents over the past two months and who are probably now in the custody of a different government agency.

There are about 2,300 migrant children separated from their parents.

"Separating kids from families with whom they are bonded is very clearly traumatic and very clearly harmful for children," Neubrand said.

She has not received word regarding the current condition of the children she treated or whether the children might be reunited soon with their families.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 595436

Reported Deaths: 9466
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion822851311
Lake44626670
Allen32165543
Hamilton28684308
St. Joseph26917378
Elkhart24173343
Vanderburgh18856236
Tippecanoe17638125
Johnson14687289
Porter14513163
Hendricks14010242
Madison10715216
Vigo10540177
Clark10349135
Monroe9189108
Delaware8956134
LaPorte8867158
Howard7982140
Kosciusko791380
Warrick652994
Hancock646999
Bartholomew631096
Floyd6205107
Wayne5984159
Grant5874110
Dubois547175
Boone538867
Morgan524192
Henry497764
Marshall495384
Cass475362
Dearborn464545
Noble463157
Jackson417846
Shelby405680
Lawrence383876
Clinton367840
Gibson360058
DeKalb339163
Montgomery338152
Harrison333643
Knox329839
Miami312743
Steuben309343
Adams297435
Whitley297225
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Huntington284959
White269138
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Jefferson253838
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Scott218538
Randolph209845
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Spencer184319
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Washington179321
Starke172743
Jay163922
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Parke12918
Pike114326
Blackford109222
Pulaski95337
Newton89821
Brown85931
Benton85310
Crawford7719
Martin70713
Warren6637
Switzerland6235
Union6146
Ohio4727
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 836049

Reported Deaths: 10323
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin98533705
Cuyahoga831801065
Hamilton61931441
Montgomery42028399
Summit33849736
Lucas30524605
Butler30003228
Stark25093419
Warren19083140
Lorain18418212
Mahoning16931337
Lake15592136
Clermont15335105
Delaware1403077
Licking12819132
Trumbull12515307
Fairfield1232480
Greene11729135
Medina11286165
Clark10672264
Wood10081156
Allen9639126
Portage9006107
Miami895273
Richland8910116
Marion7377113
Tuscarawas7177174
Columbiana7164124
Pickaway710350
Wayne6855165
Muskingum678241
Erie5976118
Hancock542990
Ross535287
Scioto527063
Geauga491755
Darke459489
Ashtabula443172
Lawrence439353
Union437028
Sandusky427462
Mercer427387
Seneca417357
Auglaize416259
Huron416138
Shelby413521
Jefferson409066
Belmont403740
Washington375940
Putnam367872
Athens36759
Madison343429
Knox340122
Ashland336838
Fulton328543
Defiance322578
Crawford316371
Preble313836
Brown298819
Logan296529
Ottawa283934
Clinton281243
Williams272866
Highland266018
Jackson259043
Guernsey245325
Champaign244427
Fayette229729
Morrow22574
Perry223318
Holmes220362
Henry213547
Hardin206433
Coshocton199620
Van Wert198744
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Gallia192126
Adams167415
Pike167417
Hocking165523
Carroll151316
Paulding141121
Noble118740
Meigs105021
Monroe97229
Harrison8598
Morgan79728
Vinton67613
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