Kids' respiratory problems blamed on 9/11 dust


Kids' respiratory problems blamed on 9/11 dust


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November 29, 2007

Children exposed to World Trade Center dust are at much higher risk for respiratory problems, and in some cases are twice as likely as their peers to develop asthma, according to a city Health Department survey released yesterday.

The survey of the 3,100 children who are enrolled in the city's World Trade Center Health Registry found that being caught in the dust cloud in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack was the single biggest risk factor in developing respiratory problems.

Half of all children enrolled in the registry developed a new or worsening breathing problem. But those who were caught in the massive dust plume were diagnosed with asthma at double the rate of those who were not.

Neither distance from the trade center site at the time of the attacks, nor how long it took families to evacuate appeared to affect a child's asthma rate, health officials said.

"Being caught in the cloud - that's the World-Trade-Center-related variable that seemed to make a difference," Deputy Health Commissioner Lorna Thorpe said.

The study is the the first to measure the impact of the terrorist attacks on childhood asthma rates among children who were in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11.

The city's health registry was created in 2003 to track physical and mental health problems experienced by downtown residents and workers, as well as that of rescue and recovery teams who worked at Ground Zero after the attacks.

The city has enrolled 71,000 people in the registry. That makes it the largest public health registry in the nation, although officials acknowledge it captures only a fraction of those who were living or working in lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks or those involved in the recovery effort.

Janis Collado, who moved from Great Neck to Chambers Street in August 2001, said she has been diagnosed with asthma and pulmonary fibrosis since the terrorist attacks. Her then-20-year-old daughter's asthma also worsened for a time.

"You see the cough, you hear the cough," Collado said, as she checked in for the Health Department's annual registry meeting last night at Pace University in lower Manhattan. "You see it in the school-age kids. Over the long term, it's really tough on the kids because the air is still bad here. There's still dust and debris, but it's from the construction now, not the actual disaster. It's different, but it's still bad."

The data released yesterday was gathered in surveys conducted in 2003 and 2004. Health officials acknowledge that until they complete follow-up surveys, they cannot be sure if the higher asthma rates are at least partially the result of parents with children who experience such problems being more likely to enroll in the health registry. The results of the follow-up survey are expected later next year.

"These results are cause for concern, but the follow-up survey will be much more definitive," Thorpe said. "It will tell us if this was a blip, or if this is something that has continued over time. This is still an unfolding story."

The survey's findings mirror a sharp increase in the rate of childhood asthma hospitalization rates in lower Manhattan, according to city figures. Even though the number of neighborhood children under 14 hospitalized for asthma is very small, lower Manhattan is the only area in the borough where the rate of hospitalization increased between 1997 and 2005.

The impact on children's mental health appeared to be less severe, although signs of trauma also were more evident in those who were caught in the dust cloud, according to the data released yesterday. The city's survey found that only 3 percent of the children enrolled in the registry showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

That's a much lower figure than a study conducted last year by Columbia University-Barnard College that reported about 15 percent of lower Manhattan parents with preschoolers had sought counseling for their children as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Danger in the air

Children exposed to dust contamination after Sept. 11 had higher rates of asthma, according to a study of kids near Ground Zero at the time of the attacks.

Asthma rates Kids exposed to dust Kids not exposed Northeast Average

Age 2-4 20.9% 12.3% 7.0%

Age 5-11 24.0% 15.7% 16.8%

Age 12-17 19.5% 16.7% 16.0%

All children 22.0% 15.5%

SOURCE: NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; WTC Health Registry

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

I want to spread the word so...

I'll be printing this blog so I can give it to my 8 year old for her friends on play dates. I wish there was a so we could organize info related to kids because no one is too small to know the score. If you aren't at the table, you are on the menu.
Many hands make light work!
RRREMA=research, realize, react, educate, motivate, activate
"It's been said, and I think it's accurate, that my husband was obsessed by terrorism in general and al-Qaida in particular." (Hillary