Objective To assess the neurodevelopmental effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake in resident children. Study design The disaster on March 11, 2011, caused severe damage to the Sanriku coastal area, where we had been conducting a birth cohort study since 2003. It occurred in the middle of our 7-year-old examination. Approximately 500 mother-child pairs were compulsorily divided into 2 groups: 123 children finished the examination in the predisaster period, and 289 did in the postdisaster period. The remainder died or moved from that area. At the time of 7-year-old examination, we administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition and electrocardiography to assess autonomic function. According to the Child Behavior Checklist for ages 2-3 years and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children that had been administered at 30 months and 42 months of age, respectively, there were no significant differences in them between the 2 groups. Results Verbal IQ, including information, arithmetic, and vocabulary subscores of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition, at 7 years of age was significantly lower in the postdisaster group than in the predisaster group. However, there were no significant differences in performance IQ, full-scale IQ, or autonomic nervous indicators between the 2 groups. Conclusions Since many schools were utilized as primary refuges after the disaster, the deficits in verbal IQ of 7-year-old children may have been due to the interrupted schooling. Further follow-up and more specific posttraumatic stress disorder testing will be required to determine the cause and long-term implications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health