SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Two Florida State University (FSU) professors have received funding to examine how Hurricane Michael impacted birth outcomes in the Florida Panhandle as a result of infrastructure damage and exposure to carbon monoxide.
The study will investigate exposure to carbon monoxide. The poisonous gas has been associated with fetal demise and other neurological complications during pregnancies.
It will also explore health care access after the storm and birth outcomes in areas that were impacted by Michael. FSU Professor Chris Uejio says disasters like hurricanes can have long-lasting impacts. “A variety of factors, stress related to the mental problems from coping with a severe disaster and decreased access to healthcare," Uejio said. "These do impact mothers who are expectant, and in turn, their newborn offspring.”
The instructors will team up with researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The goal of the research is to show the importance of getting health care facilities back up and running after disasters along with thinking more about generator safety and helping people understand the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“There are many ways a hurricane can damage infrastructure and alter environmental exposures, in ways that we may not always think about,” Uejio said. “It can change whether newborn infants are born slightly earlier or slightly smaller. That can actually have lifelong consequences for your health.”