Effects of a hurricane on growth and morbidity in children from low-income families in Kingston, Jamaica

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1993 Sep-Oct;87(5):526-8. doi: 10.1016/0035-9203(93)90073-y.


This is the first report of the effects of a hurricane on children's health and nutritional status in which data were available preceding and following the event. When Hurricane Gilbert struck Jamaica in 1988, a longitudinal study was in progress in which children's weights and heights were recorded every 2 months and their morbidity histories taken every week. The investigation included 127 stunted (low height-for-age) and 32 non-stunted children aged 23-44 months, living in poor areas of Kingston. The data from the 4 months before and after the hurricane were compared. There was an increase in the occurrence of respiratory symptoms including rapid or difficult breathing (P < 0.04), coughs (P < 0.001) and nasal discharges (P < 0.001) during the first 2-month period after the hurricane. However there was no significant effect on the occurrence of diarrhoea and injuries. Deficits were also found in height gain (P < 0.001) during the same period. These adverse effects were found in spite of the large amount of food aid received and the aggressive health education programme implemented after the hurricane.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disasters*
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Jamaica
  • Morbidity
  • Nutrition Disorders / complications*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Poverty
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology
  • Time Factors