May 30, 2012

RTI International to Study Aftereffects of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita on Children's Health

Highlights

  • RTI International will examine how living conditions have impacted the health of children living in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
  • The study will monitor experiences, symptoms and illnesses of children to assess health effects related to issues faced after the storms
  • The three-year feasibility study will include 420 families living in Mississippi and Louisiana
  • The study is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Media Contacts

  • News@rti.org
  • Lisa Bistreich-Wolfe
    919-316-3596
  • Kami Spangenberg
    919-485-5606
Diane Wagener
Diane Wagener

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new study recently launched in Louisiana and Mississippi will look at how living conditions – such as storm-damaged housing, FEMA-supplied trailers and unaffected housing – have impacted the health of children living in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Led by RTI International, the Children's Health after the Storms (or CHATS) study, is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will examine and compare the health of Gulf Coast area children who may have come in contact with air pollutants associated with living conditions after the storms.

As part of the study, RTI and its local partners will monitor and record the experiences, symptoms and illnesses of children ages 3 through 15 to assess health effects related to issues children faced after the storms, from mold in homes that were flooded, to renovations, to chemicals in the air in FEMA-supplied trailers. CHATS will include both children who have been healthy since the hurricanes as well as those who have been ill.

"There have been a variety of concerns raised about health problems in children possibly associated with living conditions after these storms," said Diane Wagener, CHATS project director for RTI. "This study will help Gulf Coast communities better understand how these storms and their aftereffects may have impacted the short- and long-term health of children living in these areas."

CHATS is currently funded for a three-year feasibility study prior to potentially launching the full-scale study. One purpose of the feasibility phase is to find out if the people in the Gulf Coast area are willing to participate in another study. "We have been very encouraged by the support area communities have given CHATS so far, and their recognition of the importance of this study for area children and families," said Lisa Thalji, CHATS deputy director for RTI. "Our hope is that when individuals are approached by CHATS interviewers to participate, they will join the study."

During this phase, 420 children from pre-selected families that have been randomly chosen from the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas of Louisiana and the Gulfport and Biloxi areas of Mississippi will be enrolled and monitored. The full-scale study would include children living throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.

The study team will perform in-person interviews, measure and monitor environmental pollutants, and track the participants' health over a number of years. Using innovative research designs and newly developed technology, the study will assess seasonal variation in pollutants and compare personal, indoor, outdoor and central-site monitoring data.

Local partner organizations assisting RTI with CHATS include the Louisiana Public Health Institute, LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, the LSU Interim Hospital Core Laboratories, the Coastal Family Health Centers and Aten.

Additionally, RTI initiated a CHATS Community Advisory Panel, composed of local stakeholders and community organizations, to assist with outreach related to the study. Panel members and partners include the Children's Health Fund, Coastal Family Health Center, Community Center of St. Bernard, Kingsley House, Louisiana Public Health Institute, LSU Health Sciences Center, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, Neighborhood Partnership Network, Pearlington Impact Association, The Steps Coalition and Visions of Hope, Inc.

For more information about the study, please visit https://chats.rti.org.