Children in Japan’s disaster districts found to have higher incidence of mental problems


There are higher incidences of atopic skin inflammation in children who witnessed the March 2011 tsunami or were forced to flee a familiar environment afterward, a survey showed Tuesday.

The study also found a higher prevalence of mental problems among children in disaster-struck areas than elsewhere, according to Sendai-based Tohoku University’s Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization.

The organization is urging municipal governments in Miyagi Prefecture to reflect the findings in their policies.

The survey, conducted over four years from fiscal 2012, covered second, fourth and sixth graders of elementary schools and second graders of junior high schools in 28 municipalities in Miyagi.

Parents filled in questionnaires on behalf of their children. The organization received answers from some 17,000 students.

The survey found that the proportion of children with atopic dermatitis was 1.23 times higher among students who experienced the tsunami than those who did not.

The proportion of children with mental problems was 1.21 times higher in disaster areas, the survey showed.

The survey also found that the rates of children suffering from atopic dermatitis and mental problems tended to decline in line with an improvement in their living conditions.

Because such children have not fully recovered from their symptoms they still need close attention, said Masahiro Kikuya, associate professor at the organization.

  • solodoctor

    It is not surprising that these children are exhibiting signs of mental distress more than others. They DO need ‘close attention.’. What kinds of help are they being provided: by the schools, bynlocal clinics, by NGO’s still engaged with their communities? Unless they get such help their functioning in the !long term will be negatively affected.