Long-term health of children following the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption: a prospective cohort study.
Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2018;9(sup2):1442601
Authors: Hlodversdottir H, Thorsteinsdottir H, Thordardottir EB, Njardvik U, Petursdottir G, Hauksdottir A
Background: More than 500 million people worldwide live within exposure range of an active volcano and children are a vulnerable subgroup of such exposed populations. However, studies on the effects of volcanic eruptions on children’s health beyond the first year are sparse. Objective: To examine the effect of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption on physical and mental health symptoms among exposed children in 2010 and 2013 and to identify potential predictive factors for symptoms. Method: In a population-based prospective cohort study, data was collected on the adult population (N = 1615) exposed to the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption and a non-exposed group (N = 697). The exposed group was further divided according to exposure level. All participants answered questionnaires assessing their children´s and their own perceived health status in 2010 and 2013. Results: In 2010, exposed children were more likely than non-exposed children to experience respiratory symptoms (medium exposed OR 1.47; 95% CI 1.07-2.03; high exposed OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.03-2.24) and anxiety/worries (medium exposed OR 2.39; 95% CI 1.67-3.45; high exposed OR 2.77; 95% CI 1.81-4.27). Both genders had an increased risk of symptoms of anxiety/worries but only exposed boys were at increased risk of experiencing headaches and sleep disturbances compared to non-exposed boys. Within the exposed group, children whose homes were damaged were at increased risk of experiencing anxiety/worries (OR 1.62; 95% CI 1.13-2.32) and depressed mood (OR 1.55; 95% CI 1.07-2.24) than children whose homes were not damaged. Among exposed children, no significant decrease of symptoms was detected between 2010 and 2013. Conclusions: Adverse physical and mental health problems experienced by the children exposed to the eruption seem to persist for up to a three-year period post-disaster. These results underline the importance of appropriate follow-up for children after a natural disaster.
PMID: 29535848 [PubMed]