Children Displaced By Hurricane Katrina Suffer Physical, Mental Health Problems

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Children displaced by Hurricane Katrina have high rates of illness and mental health issues after "more than three years of nomadic uncertainty," the New York Times reports. According to a study by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, "Not only has [children's] health not improved since the storm, over time it has declined to an alarming level."

Researchers examined health records collected in 2008 by the Children's Health Fund's mobile health clinics and found that 41% of the displaced children younger than age four had iron-deficiency anemia -- which often is caused by poor nutrition and is associated with development and academic issues.


The study found that 42% of children who lived in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers with dangerous levels of formaldehyde had allergic rhinitis or an upper respiratory infection. The Times reports that many children also have depression and other mental health illnesses. People who were displaced by the hurricane also face difficulties accessing health care, counseling and child care services.

The Times profiled several families that were among the last to leave a trailer park in Louisiana when FEMA closed it in May. According to the Times, "The key to giving the children a future, doctors and educators have long said, is providing them with a sense of stability," and that "recommendation is underscored by the gains made by those families that have found a toehold" (Dewan, New York Times, 12/5).

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