Publicatie datum

Health problems among children and adolescents before and after a disaster.

Dirkzwager, A.J.E., Yzermans, C.J. Health problems among children and adolescents before and after a disaster. European Journal of Public Health: 2004, 14(4 Suppl.) 26. Abstract. 12 th Annual EUPHA meeting: Urbanisation and health: new challenges in health promotion and prevention in Oslo, Norway, 7-9 october 2004.
Aim: In May 2000, a firework factory exploded in a residential area in the Netherlands, resulting in
22 deaths, 947 wounded people and about 1.500 people who lost their homes. Following the explosion,
a large-scale monitoring study was implemented to examine disasterrelated health consequences for
the residents of the neighbourhood. In this presentation the longitudinal course of the health
problems of children and adolescents involved in the disaster are discussed. Methods: Data are
collected in general practices through a standardised reporting procedure, in which the general
practitioners (GPs)
register each contact with their patients in a computerised format. The monitoring provides
information about the number of medical consultations and the type of health problems patients
present to their GPs. In addition, information is available on demographic characteristics, and on
the degree of exposure to the explosion. Health problems are registered by the GPs according to the
International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC). Both pre-disaster data and data of a control
group are available. Results: Youngsters between 1-20 years of age were examined. Data were
available for 1.681 victims (53% male; mean age = 11.0, SD=6.0) and 2.675 controls (50.4% male; mean
age = 10.6, SD=5.8). Prior to the disaster 10.4% of the victims presented psychological problems to
their GP, compared to 8.1% in the control group. The first year post-disaster still 8.1% of the
control group reported psychological problems, while in the victim group the number of youths with
psychological problems increased to 26.8%. Results for other types of health problems, for different
age groups and risk factors for post-disaster psychological problems will be examined as well.
Conclusions: Youngsters exposed to this disaster showed long-term increases in morbidity, especially
in psychological problems. Health care providers should be alert for such problems even among very
young children. Extreme weather events in Europe and Public Health responses: an overview of
contributions to an European conference to this topic and recommendations from the WHO and European