Hurricanes and Other Trauma May Cause Long-Term Effects in Children

By Staff Writer

Hurricanes can be extremely traumatic events, particularly for children, and may sometimes result in long-term psychological effects, such as post traumatic stress disorder, according to a new study from University of Miami researchers.

While previous studies have shown that children can suffer strong consequences in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, the new investigation is the first to show that it can also have an effect years after the fact.

For the study, researchers examined a group of 384 second through fourth grade students who had lived through Hurricane Charlie, a powerful storm that tore through Southwest Florida in 2004 causing several deaths and millions of dollars worth of damage.

The researchers found that 34 percent showed signs of PTSD one year after the event, which is in keeping with earlier studies. However, they also showed that 29 percent of the participants had symptoms that persisted beyond the first year following the hurricane, which contradicts earlier findings.

The researchers concluded that children who show the strongest symptoms at the one year mark following a traumatic event may be at the greatest risk of developing long-term psychological problems, including PTSD.