Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 19-23

Acute stress-related psychological impact in children following devastating natural disaster, the Sikkim earthquake (2011), India

1 Department of Pediatric Medicine, North Bengal Medical College, Darjeeling, India
2 Department of Pediatric Medicine, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
4 Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
5 Department of Pediatric Medicine, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences Gangtok, Sikkim, India
6 Department of Physical Medicine, North Bengal Medical College Darjeeling, India

Correspondence Address:
Rakesh Mondal
Department of Pediatric Medicine, North Bengal Medical College, Balarampur, Mahestala, Kolkata - 700 141
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-3147.116434

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Background: Psychological stress following natural disaster is common. Despite several earthquakes in India, data on evaluation of acute stress among the child victims in the early postdisaster period is scarce. Immediately following a devastating earthquake (6.9 Richter) at Sikkim on September, 18 2011, many children attended North Bengal Medical College, the nearest government tertiary care institution, with unusual stress symptoms. Objective: Evaluation of acute stress symptoms in children in the immediate postearthquake period. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study done over 4 weeks and includes all the children from 1 to 12 years presenting with unusual physical or behavioral symptoms. Those with major injuries requiring admission were excluded. They were divided into two age groups. For older children (8-12 years) the 8-item Children Impact of Event Scale (CIES) was used for screening of stress. Unusual symptoms were recorded in younger children (1-8 years) as CIES is not validated < 8 years. Result: A total of 84 children (2.66%) out of 3154 had stress symptoms. Maximum attendance was noted in first 3 days (65.47%) and declined gradually. In children ≥ 8 years, 48.78% had psychological stress, which was statistically significant on CIES scores without any gender predilection. Static posturing (41.86%), sleeplessness (32.55%), anorexia (9.30%), recurrent vomiting (13.95%), excessive crying (13.95%), or night-awakenings (4.65%) were found in younger children ( n = 43) and three required admission. Conclusion: This study represent the first Indian data showing statistically significant psychological impact in older children (8-12 years) and various forms of physical stress symptoms in young children (1-8 years) following earthquake.

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