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Overview of Children and Disasters

Bothe, Denise A. MD*; Olness, Karen N. MD*; Reyes, Charina MD, FAAP

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: October/November 2018 - Volume 39 - Issue 8 - p 652–662
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000600
Special Article

ABSTRACT: Currently, throughout the world, there are nearly 40 million children displaced by natural or man-made disasters. The special needs of children in disasters are often unrecognized, yet children comprise half of disaster victims. The purpose of this review is to provide information on (1) demographics related to children and disasters, both domestic and international; (2) risks for children who experience disasters; (3) programs that help children in disasters; and (4) training programs on the special needs of children in disasters. Children who are displaced by disasters are at risk of acute and long-term medical problems. Disaster experiences can also lead to acute and long-term psychological problems. Ultimately, these have worldwide negative implications for human society, including education, health care, security, and economic and political aspects of daily life. There is a compelling need for more services to help the children who have experienced disasters and for education to train more relief workers about the special needs of children in disasters.

*Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH;

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Address for reprints: Denise A. Bothe, MD, Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics and Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, 10524 Euclid Avenue, Suite #3150, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106-6038; e-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received September 22, 2017

Accepted May 23, 2018

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