The Health Impact of Separating Immigrant Children

By Jessica Lussenhop
BBC News, North America reporter

Paediatric and child trauma experts are sounding the alarm that separating migrant children from their parents at the US border can cause serious physical and psychological damage.

As more stories emerge about children being separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and the US, doctors and scientists are warning that there could be long-term, irreversible health impacts on children if they're not swiftly reunited.

The head of the American Academy of Pediatrics went so far as to call the policy "child abuse" and against "everything we stand for as pediatricians".

"This is completely ridiculous and I'm approaching that not as someone who's taking a position in the politics, but as a scientist," says Charles A Nelson III, a professor of paediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.

"We just know the science does not support that this is good for kids."

From mid-April to May this year, the US Department of Homeland Security says it has separated nearly 2,000 children from their parents, after the families crossed the border into the US. The adults are being jailed and prosecuted for illegal border crossing under a new "zero-tolerance" policy enacted by the Trump administration, while their children are moved into shelters overseen by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

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