Stillbirths Higher After Hurricanes Katrina And Rita: Study05/09/14
FRIDAY, May 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of stillbirth
among pregnant women greatly increased following hurricanes Katrina
and Rita, a new study shows.
Katrina struck Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005, and Rita struck on
Sept. 24 that same year. Both hurricanes caused widespread property
and infrastructure damage, along with many deaths and injuries.
In this study, researchers investigated the risk of stillbirth
among pregnant women in damaged and undamaged areas in the 28
months after Katrina struck.
Compared to undamaged areas of Louisiana, the risk of stillbirth
was 40 percent higher in areas where 10 percent to 50 percent of
housing had been damaged, and more than twice as high in areas were
more than 50 percent of housing had been damaged, according to
Sammy Zahran and colleagues from Colorado State University.
After accounting for other known risk factors, the researchers
calculated that every 1 percent increase in the extent of damage to
housing was associated with a 7 percent rise in the number of
stillbirths. Based on those figures, the investigators concluded
that up to half of the 410 stillbirths in extensively damaged areas
may have been the direct result of the hurricanes and the damage
Their estimates suggest that stillbirths accounted for about 18
percent to 30 percent of all the deaths that occurred in the wake
of the hurricanes, according to the study published online May 8 in
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Previous research has found a link between stress, depression
and mental trauma in pregnant women and increased risk of birth
complications, including stillbirth, the study authors said.
They noted that climate change could lead to more and stronger
hurricanes, resulting in increased risk to pregnant women and their
Although the study has found an association between hurricanes
and the risk of stillbirth, it can't definitively prove that the
storms were the cause of the increase in stillbirths.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
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