They were pregnant during a weather disaster. Do your children carry the 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 on Nexus Media News and The Guardian.

Flickr/New York Governor’s Office

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

This article originally appeared on 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 worked on previous disasters, including Hurricane Irene the year before, but this felt different. He saw news reports that Sandy was going to be worse than anything New Yorkers had ever seen.

“What if I go into labor?” Sporer-Newman wondered. “I was like, [with] My luck, I’ll be at work in an ambulance standing in, like, 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 baby boy named Izzy. He weighed seven pounds six ounces and was jaundiced, but otherwise appeared healthy. But as Sandy’s rain began to fall, Sporer-Newman and her baby would face challenges beyond her 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; the neighborhoods are flooded; businesses fail and workers lose their jobs.

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

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