A new study has revealed that children of displaced families from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have serious health and mental ailments. The report, released by the New York-based Children’s Health Fund, reviewed medical records of 261 children who lived in a federally-funded Baton Rouge trailer park until early summer. This is the first in-depth review of children’s medical and mental health after the catastrophic storms in 2005 that displaced thousands of families throughout the Gulf Coast.
After Katrina, the Children’s Health Fund, a non-profit group that provides health care to children, dispatched mobile clinics across the Gulf Coast, including one outside Renaissance Village in Baton Rouge, then the largest Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer park in the region. The Children’s Health Fund used medical data gathered from that clinic to conduct the survey, according to Irwin Redlener, president of the group and the study’s author. One of the most alarming findings: 41% of children younger than four were diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, more than double the rate of children living in New York City homeless shelters. This appears to be a very big problem that has not been focused on at all in the Gulf Coast.
Dr. Heidi Sinclair, a Baton Rouge pediatrician who helped run the Children’s Health Fund clinic there, says she saw disturbingly high rates of respiratory problems and skin rashes among children. Dr. Sinclair said that when she began testing for iron-deficiency ‘ a condition that can lead to fatigue, attention-deficit disorder and skin ailments ‘ she thought the machines used to test were malfunctioning because the rates were so consistently high. She says, “the main problem is there’s been such a lack of stability.” This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would launch a long-term study of children who resided in federally-issued trailers and mobile homes in Louisiana and Mississippi, hundreds of which were found to have high levels of toxins, such as formaldehyde.
After Renaissance Village was emptied this summer, the children and their families relocated to permanent or other temporary housing. There are still at least 9,300 families in trailers and 1,600 in hotel rooms across the Gulf Coast, according to FEMA. It’s said that the children in the Children’s Health Fund study are probably some of the sickest of the estimated 30,000 children living in trailers and temporary housing in the region. Many other displaced children could experience similar symptoms. There is no telling how many children have been affected. Many of the children have not been seen by a doctor or been tested.
Source: USA Today
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