They were pregnant during a climate disaster. Do their children bear scars?

New studies have found that the mental development of children exposed to Superstorm Sandy in utero is associated with stress. This article originally appeared in Nexus Media News and The Guardian.

Flickr/NEW Governor’s Office

Destruction from Hurricane Sandy in Queens, November 6, 2012.

This article originally appeared in Nexus Media News and The Guardian.

When Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012, Celia Sporer-Newman was about eight months pregnant and working full-time as a paramedic in Queens, New York.

Sporer-Newman had dealt with previous disasters, including Hurricane Irene the year before, but this one felt different. He saw reports that Sandy would be worse than anything New Yorkers had seen before.

“What if I go into labor?” Sporer-Newman wondered. “I was like, [with] luckily for me, I’ll be at work in an ambulance standing in about 12 feet of water.

Four days before Superstorm Sandy made landfall and about three weeks before her due date, Sporer-Newman gave birth to a boy named Izzy. He weighed seven pounds six ounces and was jaundiced, but otherwise looked healthy. But when Sandy’s rain started to fall, Sporer-Newman and her baby faced challenges beyond their expectations.

In the United States, hurricanes are increasing in frequency and intensity due to the climate crisis. Disasters cause obvious problems: people’s homes are damaged or destroyed; neighborhoods are flooded; companies fail and workers lose their jobs.

But a study released this fall suggests there may be other, more insidious long-term impacts. Children who were exposed to Superstorm Sandy while in the womb have “substantially” higher risks of developing depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder and disruptive behavior disorders, including ADHD.

They were pregnant during a climate disaster. Do their children bear scars?

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