Hurricane Harvey linked to health problems in pregnant women, babies
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Hurricane Harvey linked to health problems in pregnant women, babies

Hurricane Harvey linked to pregnant women, babies Pregnant women and babies may be among the most seriously affected by a hurricane.

A Texas analysis of women born during Harvey found that they had more problems than women delivering before the hurricane for years and months.

High blood pressure, cesarean section and work-related infections were all the more prevalent in females born after the hurricane, Obstetricians and Gynécologists report.

“Natural disasters may also have harmful consequences, particularly for vulnerable populations, which may not be obvious until weeks or months afterward,” said Reuters Health lead author Dr. Hector Mendez-Figueroa in an email.

On 25 August 2017, Hurricane Harvey struck along the Texas coast to displace thirty thousand residents and destroy thousands of homes.

29.179 women with singleton pregnancies were studied by Mendez-Figueroa and colleagues. Most of them were born in the six years before the storm hit but 3842 women were delivered within 280 days (40 weeks) of Hurricane Harvey landing, which meant that they were “exposed” to the hurricane during their infancy.

“Our data was collected during childbirth, so we did not rely on surveys sent to clinicians months or years after the tragedy, eliminating the confirmation bias,” said Mendez-Figueroa, who was with the Baylor College of Medicine and is now in the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth during the research project.

The authors note that women who gave birth after the hurricane were generally older, White, married and had greater confidence— these’ favored maternal foundation ‘ characteristics.

Yet people who were subjected to storms also had higher rates of hypertensive menstrual conditions (7.4%, versus 4.4% for non-exposed girls) and higher rates of illness at work (31.6% versus 24.6%).

Babies born after the hurricane also had issues most probably. Generally, in the baby of moms pregnant during the disaster, the level of any medical problem was 11.9% compared to 7.8% of babies born before the earthquake.

Not all socio-economic groups have been equally affected. Maternal morbidity was “a substantial increase only among low socioeconomic women after Harvey,” Mendez-Figueroa said.

This may be stress-related, said Janet Currie, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs of Henry Putnam, University of Princeton and co-director of Princeton’s Health and Wellness Center.

“Some people lost their homes, cars, and sometimes their careers,” said Reuters Health by email to Currie, who was not associated with the report. “Those with more money will believe that they can recover. Poorer people are likely to have a more strained outcome situation. “The authors say that they can not” truly determine “how the threat for pregnant women rises, however biological changes can play a part. For example, anxiety after a natural disaster enhances the excretion of insulin that could contribute to metabolic disorders. Stress frequently impacts the placenta, which limits fetal defense. A hurricane may also lead to chemical or ecological contaminants in the atmosphere, water, and soil.

Pregnant women in places vulnerable to hurricanes could be briefly relocated to limit their risk, he said by email to Reuters Health, Shao Lin of Albany University, New York State University.

“The availability of social support may help to reduce psychological stress due to property loss,” says Lin, who is not a part of the study but has observed natural disasters.

Currie said that the report raises an understanding of the impact of natural disasters on pregnant women and newborns and that first responders were conscious of the increased risk for pregnant women.

One of the drawbacks of the research is that people raised in only two medical centers, Currie observed.

Lin agrees, noting, “The researchers said the respondents from two ethnic and racially diverse hospitals were a benefit, but that the general population’s diversity remains unclear.” However, Mendez-Figueroa noted that results may assist in policy-making and natural disaster preparation.

“These groups should continue to monitor,” he said. “We can not presume the adverse effects may be ignored after the initial damage.”

SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology

Published by Neha

Having question on Pregnancy,Birth and Babies Health ? Ask us. Improving the quality of maternal, newborn and child health care meetings on accountability and quality of care learning. Maternal health is women’s health during pregnancy, infancy, and postpartum. It covers the dimensions of health care in family planning, preconception, prenatal and postnatal care to guarantee a favorable and satisfying experience

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