Medical Countermeasures for Children in Radiation and Nuclear Disasters: Current Capabilities and Key Gaps

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2019 Jun;13(3):639-646. doi: 10.1017/dmp.2018.112. Epub 2018 Nov 2.


Objective: Despite children's unique vulnerability, clinical guidance and resources are lacking around the use of radiation medical countermeasures (MCMs) available commercially and in the Strategic National Stockpile to support immediate dispensing to pediatric populations. To better understand the current capabilities and shortfalls, a literature review and gap analysis were performed.

Methods: A comprehensive review of the medical literature, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved labeling, FDA summary reviews, medical references, and educational resources related to pediatric radiation MCMs was performed from May 2016 to February 2017.

Results: Fifteen gaps related to the use of radiation MCMs in children were identified. The need to address these gaps was prioritized based upon the potential to decrease morbidity and mortality, improve clinical management, strengthen caregiver education, and increase the relevant evidence base.

Conclusions: Key gaps exist in information to support the safe and successful use of MCMs in children during radiation emergencies; failure to address these gaps could have negative consequences for families and communities. There is a clear need for pediatric-specific guidance to ensure clinicians can appropriately identify, triage, and treat children who have been exposed to radiation, and for resources to ensure accurate communication about the safety and utility of radiation MCMs for children. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:639-646).

Keywords: children; medical countermeasures; nuclear; radiation; radiologic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disasters / prevention & control*
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Medical Countermeasures*
  • Radioactive Hazard Release / prevention & control*
  • Radioactive Hazard Release / statistics & numerical data
  • United States